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Selling or Furnishing an Alcoholic Beverage to a Person Under 21: Business & Professions Code Section 25658(A) BPC

For as long as there have been alcohol-related rules in place, people have been trying to dodge them. There are many underage individuals out there who want to be able to purchase alcohol, and because of this, there are many of-age people who find themselves in tricky legal predicaments due to attempting to furnish these individuals with alcoholic beverages. If you have been charged with selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21, it’s important to learn more about this charge and to seek legal representation.

What is Selling or Furnishing an Alcoholic Beverage to a Person Under 21?

First of all, you have to understand the definition of this charge. As the name suggests, it relates to selling or giving alcohol to someone who is under the age of 21.

What are the Possible Defenses of This Charge?

There are a few different ways that lawyers defend individuals who are in this situation. If you truly believed that the person who you sold or provided the alcohol to was over the age of 21, then you cannot be convicted of this crime. For example, if the person showed you a fake government ID that you truly believed was real, then you are not guilty of this crime.

Additionally, providing other supplies to someone who is under 21 and who is planning on using these supplies while drinking alcohol is not against the law. For example, you cannot get in trouble for providing an underage individual with “mixers” to mix with their alcohol or red plastic cups that they plan to use for drinking alcohol.


There are various examples for selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21. For example, if you have a friend who is only 20 years old and if that friend asks you to purchase alcohol on their behalf, then it is illegal for you to do so. If you are caught purchasing alcohol for this individual and then giving or selling it to them, then you can be charged and convicted of this crime.

Additionally, if a stranger who is underage walks up to you outside of a convenience or grocery store, lets you know that he or she is unable to purchase alcohol because of his or her age and asks you to purchase the alcohol for him or her, you can be criminally charged and convicted for doing so.

Lastly, if you are purchasing party supplies for an underage child, such as your own son or daughter, you cannot be charged with selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 if you do not actually purchase alcohol for him or her. This is still true even if you know that your child is going to be serving alcohol at the party. If you choose to purchase the alcohol for your son or daughter or another underage individual in this situation, however, you can be charged and convicted.

What Penalties Do You Face for Selling or Furnishing an Alcoholic Beverage to a Person Under 21?

Simply selling or giving alcohol to an underage person is a misdemeanor crime in the State of California, and it can carry a $1,000 fine and a mandatory 24 hours of community service. This is in the most basic of situations, however.

If the underage person causes or suffers from serious bodily injury in relation to drinking alcohol that was provided by you, this makes things more serious. In this situation, you could face six months to one year in jail.

Lastly, if you are a business owner who is convicted of this crime, you should know that your ability to possess a liquor license within your business could be jeopardized. This means that beyond the basic legal consequences, you may face serious issues with running your business and earning a living.

What to Do if You Have Been Charged with This Crime

Being charged with selling or furnishing an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 is a matter that you should take seriously. You could be facing hefty fines, a community service obligation, an impact on your criminal record and more. Even after the fines are paid and the community service has been performed, you have to worry about a conviction tarnishing your reputation, getting in the way of your ability to find a rental or even preventing you from keeping or getting another job.

Luckily, there is hope. Regardless of the circumstances behind your case, it’s critical to hire a criminal defense attorney. Then, someone who knows and understands California law can help defend you in the best way possible.

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