Underage Drinking and Penalties in Florida
Summertime is the perfect time of year for young adults and teens to get out and celebrate the beautiful weather and break from school. Quite often, this means consuming substances that they aren’t legally able to consume, mainly alcohol. This activity can lead to both criminal and civil penalties for the underage drinker.
Underage Drinking Party Busted
In May, an after prom party in Palm City was busted that was planned to have some 300 high school students at an AirBnB rental house. However, the party was shut down before it ever started due to a resource officer that was tipped off about the pending plans. Authorities with the local sheriff’s department say they obtained permission from the owner of the home who claimed to be unaware of the huge party that was planned.
During the search of the home, they found what they called an enormous amount of alcohol that included two stocked refrigerators, as well as drinks on the second and third floors of the home. They also found two stripper poles that had been added to the home and a huge supply of marijuana cigarettes.
Although all of the evidence was there, no one was arrested. Why? Officers never actually saw any underage drinking, minors in possession of alcohol or drugs, or no people furnishing the alcohol or drugs to the minors. They lacked evidence to prove any type of criminal actions.
Penalties for Underage Possession, Sale, or Use of Alcohol
Possession of alcohol by a minor is considered a second-degree misdemeanor as long as it is a first offense. It is punishable by up to $500 in fines and six months in jail. Even if convicted, most offenders do not receive the maximum penalty, especially if they had adequate legal representation.
Florida also has an open house party law that can be either second-degree or first-degree misdemeanors. A first offense is a second-degree misdemeanor and a second-degree misdemeanor results when it is a second or subsequent offense or if there is significant injury to a minor. A first-degree misdemeanor can be punishable with a fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
In order for a prosecutor to prove that someone broke the open house party law they must prove that the defendant had control of the residence, allowed a house party to take place, defendant knew the minors were consuming drugs or alcohol at the residence, minors were consuming drugs or alcohol, despite knowing that the minors were consuming alcohol the defendant failed to stop the activities.
Giving or selling alcohol to minors also comes with penalties. To be found guilty of the crime prosecutors must prove that the defendant sold, served, gave, or permitted the service of alcohol to minors and that the person consuming alcohol was under the age of 21. First time offenders of this crime can be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to 60 days in jail. In some cases, the offender’s driver’s license may also be suspended or revoked.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with crimes involving minors and alcohol, contact the Orlando criminal attorneys at O’Mara Law Group today. We will work to defend you and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.