Friday, October 5, 2012

Furnishing Alcohol and Providing a Place for Minors to Drink

He also makes sure to hire a good lawyer

Mixing Alcohol and Minors Can Be Trouble

Recent news reports show that prosecutors take furnishing alcohol to minors and providing a place for minors to consume alcohol seriously and judges are willing to impose serious sentences. These offenses seem to come up pretty often so it's worth taking a closer look at the Law.

Title 28-A §2081 makes it a crime to knowingly:
  1. Procure, or in any way aid or assist in procuring, furnish, give, sell or deliver liquor for or to a minor.
  2. Allow a minor under that person's control or in a place under that person's control to possess or consume liquor
For purposes of these crimes:
  • A "minor" is someone who is less than 21 years old
  • Violation is a class D misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 364 days jail and $2000 in fines. 
  • The minimum sentence for providing alcohol to a minor under 18 is a $500 fine. 
  • The minimum sentence for providing a place for minors under 18 to consume alcohol is a $1000 fine. 
  • Where the minors are under 21 but over 18, there is no minimum sentence.
  • Both offenses are elevated to class C felonies, punishable by 5 years in prison, "if the consumption of liquor by the minor in fact causes serious bodily injury to or death"

There are Defenses and a Lawyer Can Help

The most important thing about the statute is that it has a state of mind requirement  To commit a crime the person must act "Knowingly." The law provides that:
  • A person acts knowingly with respect to a result of the person's conduct when the person is aware that it is practically certain that the person's conduct will cause such a result
  • A person acts knowingly with respect to attendant circumstances when the person is aware that such circumstances exist.

So that means that a person must know that the individual they serve alcohol to is a minor and, in the case of allowing consumption, must also know that they were consuming alcohol and then choose to allow the consumption of alcohol at a place under their control.

Beyond that, the law "does not apply to a person who serves liquor or imitation liquor to a minor in a home in the presence of the minor's parent, guardian or custodian"

In the end, minors can drink and parents can provide alcohol to minors, as long as the parents are present. Parents who allow a gathering but do not know about drinking, have a defense, and hosts who invite people over and provide alcohol have a defense if they can reasonably claim that they did not realize that some guests were under 21.

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