Underage Drinking/Minor in Possession in North Carolina
The Criminal Defense Team of Hatch, Little & Bunn handles all Wake County criminal charges.
Raleigh is a college town. It is home to over 50,000 college/university students. As such, one of the most common charges on any weekend is an “Underage Drinking Ticket.” The majority of the laws regarding the sale, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages are contained in Chapters 14, 18B and 20 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Our team helps students from NCSU, Meredith, Peace, Shaw, St. Augustine, and all Wake County high schools. Did you receive a ticket while visiting in town? We can help you too and possibly keep you from having to come to court.
In each of these cases, the specific facts and circumstances are extremely important. There is commonly an admission of guilt to the officer. However, just because you’ve admitted your guilt does not necessarily mean that you are guilty of a crime. Did your admission specify when you were in possession or consumed alcohol? Can the state prove that you were not just taking the blame of possessing the alcohol so that your friend who was in the car with you wouldn’t be charged? Our Criminal Legal team can fight to show your innocence or exclude your admission of guilt altogether.
In regards to consuming alcohol, the state must prove that there was actual consumption. Merely being in proximity to alcohol is not enough. Generally speaking, a portable breath test must be used to confirm the presence of alcohol on your breath. Can the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you consumed alcohol? Did the charging officer actually witness you drinking and subsequently confirm that what you were drinking was in fact alcohol? Can the state show that your consumption was not part of an exempted activity such as consuming wine during a communion service at church? With an experienced Criminal Defense Team, you may have more defenses to these charges than you think.
Moving to the possession of alcohol, can the state prove that you were in possession of the alcohol? Can the state show that you were holding a beer or just standing near one? Mere proximity again is not enough to prove your guilt. Whose car or home were you in? It’s not a crime to walk by an open beer can, so what facts and circumstances can the state put forward to show that you were in actual or constructive possession of alcohol? Were other people nearby? Was someone else exercising control of the area or space where the alcohol was located?
If you purchased alcohol, did you use your ID card or someone else’s? How will this affect school? How will this affect employment? Purchasing alcohol as a 19 or 20 year old is a class 3 misdemeanor. However, representing someone else’s ID as your own may result in class 2 misdemeanor. If you use that same fraudulent ID to purchase alcohol or enter a bar, you could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of 120 days in jail. In either of these two cases, fraudulent use of an ID may result in your license being revoked for a year.
While these charges carry serious potential consequences, they can often be resolved in a way that will have no lasting effect on either your criminal or educational record. Contact our Criminal Defense Team for a free assessment of your case and guidance on how to best resolve the matter. Whatever you’re charged with, we can walk you through the judicial process step by step and explain all of your options to you along the way. Take the first step towards putting your case and your worry behind you- call our Criminal Defense Team today.
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While these charges carry serious potential consequences, they can often be resolved in a way that will have no lasting effect on either your criminal or educational record. Contact our Criminal Defense Team for a free assessment of your case and guidance on how to best resolve the matter. Whatever you’re charged with, we can walk you through the judicial process step by step and explain all of your options to you along the way. Take the first step towards putting your case and your worry behind you – call 919-714-4306 our Criminal Defense Team today.