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Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor
Underage Drinking Charges in New Brunswick NJ
Middlesex County Criminal Defense Lawyers
In New Jersey, anyone under the age of twenty-one (21) who decides to consume alcohol, runs the risk of facing an underage drinking charge under N.J. S.A. 2C:33-15. There is little doubt that police are much more sensitive to alcohol and drug related injuries and/or deaths then they were years back, especially those resulting from Underage DWI, and are much more aggressive in cracking down on underage drinking. The result is many more cases reaching Middlesex County Municipal Courts and the Juvenile Division in New Brunswick for those who are under 18 years of age. If you or your child is facing an underage drinking offense, you should know that a conviction actually results in a 2C criminal record that will show up on a background check. Notwithstanding this fact, the attorneys at our firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, are successful in almost all cases in obtaining a downgrade of this charge so that a record is avoided. We can be reached 24/7 for a free initial consultation at 732-246-7126. Don’t let a silly mistake in Woodbridge, Edison or elsewhere in the County, become a problem that follows you around for years to come, give us a call as the overwhelming likelihood is that we can help you.
NJ Underage Drinking Offense Under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15
The law that applies when someone is charged with consuming alcohol under 21 is contained at 2C:33-15. This law states that:
a. Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and shall be fined not less than $ 500.00.
b. Whenever this offense is committed in a motor vehicle, the court shall, in addition to the sentence authorized for the offense, suspend or postpone for six months the driving privilege of the defendant. Upon the conviction of any person under this section, the court shall forward a report to the Division of Motor Vehicles stating the first and last day of the suspension or postponement period imposed by the court pursuant to this section. If a person at the time of the imposition of a sentence is less than 17 years of age, the period of license postponement, including a suspension or postponement of the privilege of operating a motorized bicycle, shall commence on the day the sentence is imposed and shall run for a period of six months after the person reaches the age of 17 years.
What Does the Prosecutor Need To Show To Prove a Underage Alcohol Case?
For the State to convict someone of underage possession or consumption of alcohol, they must establish that the accused was: (1) under the legal drinking age of 21; (2) knowing possessed or consumed an alcoholic beverage; and (3) this took place at a school, in public or a motor vehicle. The elements of under the legal drinking age is self-evident; the defendant is either 21 or older or not. The second requirement of possession/consumption exists where the accused when they aware that their conduct is of a particular nature, or that such circumstances exist, or that they are aware of a high probability of their existence. It should be noted in this regard, however, that police and prosecutors are permitted to infer a suspect’s “knowledge” from the circumstances surrounding the incident. Accordingly, individuals charged with this crime will not likely succeed with their efforts to claim ignorance, particularly if they appear intoxicated or have a positive breath test.
Penalties for Consuming Alcohol Under the Age of Twenty One
As previously stated, a conviction for possession or consumption of alcohol underage results in a 2C criminal record. The record will reflect a conviction for New Jersey’s version of a misdemeanor, namely, a disorderly persons offense. An individual may be sentenced to six (6) months in jail for committing a disorderly persons underage possession of alcohol offense. A fine of up to $1,000, other monetary assessments, probation and community service may also be imposed by a court. And when an individual is convicted of possessing alcohol or consuming alcohol in an automobile or other form of motor vehicle, they also face a mandatory drivers license suspension of six (6) months.
It is obvious from the aforesaid that a stupid lapse in judgment can have the potential for major consequences if an underage alcohol possession charge is not handled properly. Consuming alcohol is illegal but don’t let it impact your life longterm. An experienced defense lawyer is available now to make sure this hurdle is cleared without significant ramifications. Give us a call at 732-246-7126.