“Possession of Beverage by Underage persons” from Rhode Island General Laws 3-8-10, also known as Minor in Possession of Alcohol, is a criminal offense. In Rhode Island, it is unlawful for any person who has not reached his or her 21st birthday to have in his or her possession any beverage that is defined by law to be alcoholic. Under Rhode Island law, a "beverage" includes any liquid that either by itself or by mixture with any other liquid or liquids contains five tenths of one per cent (.5%) or more of alcohol by weight. There are no exceptions for when or where a minor is in possession of the beverage or who authorized it. Because this is a criminal offense, the prosecution is required to prove the case against you by the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Countless young adults who have been charged with minor in possession of alcohol in Rhode Island are defended by criminal defense attorneys every year. Often, these cases are brought forth and prosecuted as part of a public crusade against underage drinking and a crackdown on local bars and restaurants that allow minors to drink at their establishments. Many times, these charges are bought during the fall semester of the college year when students are just returning to school. Attorney David Ellison is a Rhode Island criminal defense attorney who has represented young adults facing these charges. His has helped many of his clients avoid a criminal conviction, license suspension, and other negative consequences that would have burdened them throughout their lives.
COMMON WAYS YOUNG ADULTS FIND THEMSELVES CHARGED WITH MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL
The same trends seem to play out annually in Rhode Island. Students return to college in the fall, and the local police departments perform undercover raids of local college bars and restaurants to arrest underage college students who frequent these establishments. Stings at local liquor stores also target students using fake ID's to buy alcohol. These raids are then made known to the public to discourage underage drinking in the college community. The end result is that many upstanding and bright students are left with the fear of a criminal conviction ruining their education and/or future job prospects.
PENALTIES FOR A MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL CHARGE IN RHODE ISLAND
Possession of alcohol by a minor in Rhode Island is a misdemeanor criminal offense and can result in a criminal conviction on your permanent criminal record. The law can be found in Rhode Island General Laws 3-8-10. If you are charged with possession of alcohol by a minor, you are facing a fine of:
- Between $150 and $750 for a first offense
- Between $300 and $750 for a second offense
- Between $450 and $950 for a third offense
Additionally, you may be required to perform 30 hours of community service and receive a minimum 60-day driver's license suspension. Also, for a second offense, the Court can order the defendant to undergo a substance abuse assessment by a professional as part of his or her criminal punishment.
DEFENSES TO A MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL CHARGE
There are several potential defenses to a charge for minor in possession of alcohol. Frequent constitutional challenges to these cases include:
- Proof that the beverage in the person's possession was alcoholic
- Whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop the person
- Whether the police had probable cause to arrest the person
In many cases, raising these issues with the prosecutor during a pre-trial conference and negotiation can lead to a favorable outcome of the case.
DISMISSAL OF MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL CHARGES
A minor in possession of alcohol charge can be dismissed, but it depends on the facts of the case. As with every client he represents, David will use negotiation strategies and litigation techniques to achieve the best result for you with the goal of seeing your charges dismissed or that you are found not guilty.
SEALING YOUR RECORD FOR MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL CHARGES
Sealing of these charges from your criminal record is one of the most important services David offers. If he can secure a dismissal of the charge, he can begin working immediately to have the case sealed from the police department records, the court records, and your criminal record.
SHOULD I RETAIN A LAWYER FOR A MINOR IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOL CHARGE?
You do not "need" a lawyer for any criminal case. Our Constitution provides that you may legally represent yourself in any criminal proceeding, no matter how serious. However, just because the Constitution allows you to represent yourself does not mean that this is the best course of action. It is strongly advised that, if you are charged with a criminal offense, you seek the legal counsel and guidance of a skilled local criminal defense attorney to advocate for you and help you navigate the legal system.
Every year, David represents a significant number of innocent college students who are caught up in the legal system. His clients are often unsuspecting and upstanding college students who desperately need assistance. You don't have to represent yourself. If you or a loved one has been charged with minor in possession of alcohol, contact David today at 401-230-5520.