& Family Law Representation
Minor in Possession of Alcohol / Minor Consumption of Alcohol
Defending Durango Minors Charged with Possessing Alcohol
It is illegal for anyone under age 21 to drink or even possess alcohol in Colorado. The goal of this law is to deter minors from drinking. A minor with any alcohol in his or her body, upon his or her person, or within his or her immediate control can be asked to take a breath test to determine alcohol consumption. If your child is accused and charged with possessing alcohol, you may be very concerned at the possibility of a criminal record. He or she will need a strong defense by the experienced Durango juvenile law attorneys of Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt. We have significant experience serving criminal defendants in La Plata County, Archuleta County, Montezuma County, and the Southern Ute Tribal Court jurisdiction. Minors may also be charged with this offense in one of the municipalities located within these counties.
Colorado Laws Governing Drinking and Possessing Alcohol
Possession of alcohol means that the person has or holds any amount of alcohol anywhere on his person, or owns or has custody of alcohol, or has it somewhere within his or her immediate presence and control. For a first conviction, a judge can order you to pay a fine up to $250, may order that you perform twenty-four hours of useful public service, and may further order that you submit to and complete an alcohol evaluation or assessment, an alcohol education program or an alcohol treatment program, at your own expense. The punishments are increasingly serious for repeat convictions. A minor convicted of possessing or drinking alcohol for a second time may be fined up to $500, and you will be required to submit to and complete an alcohol evaluation or assessment, an alcohol education program, or an alcohol treatment program, at your own expense. The court may further order that you perform twenty-four hours of useful public service.
It is at the third conviction that the consequences get very serious. For a third conviction, a minor will be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor offense and may be ordered to pay up to $1,000 in fines, or serve twelve months imprisonment, or both. Additional penalties may also apply. A judge may order up to twenty four hours of useful public service, will order you to submit to and complete an alcohol evaluation or assessment, an alcohol education program, or an alcohol treatment program, at your own expense.
To secure a conviction, a prosecutor does not necessarily need the results of a Breathalyzer test. Instead, the prosecutor can merely show that the defendant was under 21 and possessed or consumed alcohol; or manifested characteristics of intoxication or impairment, such as smelling of alcohol or having slurred speech.
There are several defenses that your child’s lawyer can put forward. For example, the lawyer can argue that the minor drank or possessed the alcohol while on private property with consent from the minor’s parent and the property owner. The minor’s parent must have been present to raise this defense. However, it can be problematic at times because a social host who knowingly serves alcohol to a minor can be held civilly liable for damage or injury caused by the minor.
Alternatively, your child’s lawyer can argue that any alcohol present in the minor’s body came from a substance that the minor didn’t intend to ingest. The attorney could also argue that the alcohol consumption was for religious purposes protected by the First Amendment.
Resourceful Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving Durango
Being convicted as a minor in possession of alcohol may seem unimportant in the big picture, but multiple charges add up. Any kind of criminal record can narrow the range of educational and employment opportunities available to your child. An experienced Durango criminal defense lawyer at Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt can build a vigorous defense. We have dedicated our careers to representing ordinary people charged with crimes in places such as Durango, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and Ignacio. Contact Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt by calling (970) 259-4422 or using our online form to arrange an initial meeting with one of our lawyers.