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The “MIP” law (Minor in Possession) is covered in Business and Professions Code 25662 BP to explain what it means for a minor to be in possession. Under this code, it simply means that minors under 21 year old can’t possess an alcoholic beverage in any public place. Minors who are charged under this code need to be aware of how important it is to get a good lawyer. Why? Because this is a misdemeanor, and misdemeanors can stay on your record for the rest of your life. It never looks good to have a criminal history that goes back before the age of 21, and someone who is between the ages of 18 and 21 who is charged with this offense could face trouble in the future when trying to obtain employment. Don’t risk it. A lawyer is a must.
Defenses for this charge are surprisingly numerous. A good lawyer will analyze the circumstances of your case, talk to potential witnesses, and hear your side of the story. Then if you want to proceed forward or it’s determined that you can’t get a good plea bargain, they can defend you using one of the following defenses:
– It’s a false allegation and the minor simply wasn’t in possession of alcohol (it belonged to someone else)
– Illegal search and seizure was used to discover the possession
– Possession was for a limited purpose (delivering for a parent or boss)
– Minor called 911 to ask for medical attention, so they were acting responsibly even if alcohol was discovered
And that’s not the end to the defenses. Innovative defense teams have been coming up with defenses for this crime since alcohol was legalized, so there’s always something else a good defense lawyer can drum up to help you.
If a minor is found guilty of this crime, there are of course legal consequences. And while there’s no jail time involved, they CAN face community service or a fine, and that’s something few minors can afford at their age. The most damning part of a conviction for this crime is that it’s a misdemeanor and will go on a permanent record. Despite some misreports to the contrary, misdemeanors typically stay on your record for life. That’s nothing to take lightly, especially when you’re young and just starting out in life.
Your driver’s license may be in jeopardy as well. A one-year suspension is possible, and if you’re under legal driving age, you might not be able to drive for a year after you originally could have, something that will keep some minors from starting a good work ethic early in life. Driving is an essential part of routine and productivity in any healthy society, so losing your existing or future driving privileges can be detrimental to one’s future work prospects.
Minors don’t have a good grasp of how the law works. They might not understand the serious consequences of accepting a bad plea bargain or pleading guilty to a crime of this nature. Years down the road when they apply for a job, they find that a potential employer has access to this record and they immediately regret pleading guilty in an attempt to be done with the consequences. A good lawyer can keep a minor from making this potentially devastating mistake.
In many cases, the defense attorney can get the charges dropped altogether. If that’s not possible, they might be able to get the charges reduced to something less serious or if the minor is convicted, they can negotiate for less severe penalties. The best possible outcome is only possible if you hire a good attorney for the case. Many times, it’s up to parents to hire a lawyer to defend their child against charges like this. The sooner you contact an attorney for your minor, the better. A good attorney can keep them from accepting unfair plea bargains or pleading guilty when there might be a chance that they can get their charge dismissed or reduced. Call on an attorney today for the help you need. You’ll regret it if you don’t.