Has Your Teen Been Charged with Underage Drinking?
We’ve all seen the popular movies and listened to the catchy tunes, the ones in which the teenagers circumvent the parents and get together for a bit of rebellious fun. Sometimes, these outings involve alcohol, and that may result in the festivities getting out of hand.
Has your teen been charged with underage drinking during an occasion like this? If so, the next steps usually involve some measure of court proceedings, which can become grueling for the whole family to work around. Luckily, the legal team here at Wentz Law Firm has a few pointers for navigating the challenges to come so that you and your teen can work toward a solution.
No matter how frustrated you are with your teen’s decision to drink, it’s important that you focus on what comes next and how you can best address the legal ramifications as they come. For this, it helps to find a trustworthy lawyer that can keep both of you up to speed throughout the entirety of the case. Even if the proceedings don’t end up lasting very long, or if the penalty isn’t severe, hiring an experienced attorney will grant you peace of mind and extra assurances of the best possible outcome.
If this is the first time that your child has had a run-in with the law, he or she may be eligible for what’s known as a deferral; this is the opportunity to have the charge dismissed for a grace period of six months. This chance is most likely to be given to teens who are 16 and older, have no prior criminal convictions, and haven’t ever received a deferral before the current case. Defendants who receive deferrals in cases of underage drinking were charged with one of the following: misdemeanor possession of alcohol under the age of 21, possession of false identification, aiding and abetting underage possession of alcohol, or selling alcohol or tobacco to minors.
If granted, the six months of the deferral period are crucial to getting the charges dismissed. During this time, the defendant has to admit guilt and complete an alcohol education class, along with any other requirement set forth by the judge on the case. Depending on the county in which you live, your teen may even be responsible for paying fees other than the ones necessary to enter the education program.
Otherwise, it’s all about proving that your child is a responsible member of the community; he or she must be enrolled in school or employed, and cannot be convicted of any other charges during the deferral period. In some circumstances, a judge may ask that the defendant submit to a routine drug test, or special conditions that must be met in order to show a willingness to comply with the court. If every stipulation has been met, the alcohol charge will be dismissed, and therefore eligible for expungement from the defendant’s record.
If you and your teen find yourselves in need of a practiced lawyer than help guide you both through the legal process following an underage drinking charge, contact Brett Wentz at Wentz Law Firm for a consultation!