California law Business & Professions Code Section 25658(A) prohibits giving or selling alcohol to a person under the age of 21. The drinking age in California is 21 years old. It’s against the law to drink alcohol if you’re under 21 years old. It’s also against the law to furnish minor to an alcohol.
What counts as giving alcohol to a minor?
To be convicted of a crime, the state must prove all of the elements of the crime against you. You have the right to a trial, and you have the right to representation from an attorney. For a violation of California law Business & Professions Code Section 25658(A), the state must prove that you provided alcohol to someone under 21.
It doesn’t matter if the minor paid you for the alcohol or not. It counts if you give them alcohol or exchange the alcohol for something else. The state must also prove that the person you gave alcohol to was under the age of 21.
Is a mistake a defense?
The way the law is written, it’s not a defense that the person looked over 21. The court can convict you of the offense even if you honestly thought the person was over 21. However, you should still talk to a California criminal defense attorney to see if you can raise the defense of an honest mistake and ask the jury to find you not guilty. If you relied on an official identification card that turned out to be fake, you may have a viable defense to the charges. You may have to prove that the identification looked real.
The state can use underage people to trick you
Law enforcement officials can even use underage people to set up a sting. They can use minors to ask other people to go into a store and buy alcohol for them. They can use a minor to enter a bar and ask for service. A minor who participates in a sting is immune from prosecution. However, someone who falls for the sting might face charges.
What happens to me if I’m convicted?
If you’re convicted of selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor, you receive a misdemeanor conviction on your record. That can make it harder to for you to find a job, join the military or even volunteer at your child’s school. The court also imposes penalties that include fines and community service. The maximum fine is $1000, but you may also have to pay court costs in addition to your fine.
The court must also order you to perform community service. You can expect to serve at least 24 hours of community service. If someone gets seriously hurt because you gave alcohol to a minor, you face at least six months in jail.
Penalties for a business
There are additional penalties if the violation occurred in relation to your business. You might face suspension of your license to sell liquor at your establishment. That can mean loss of your livelihood. It can also impact employees who depend on you.
Defending against the charges against you
Because the consequences for a conviction are so severe, it’s important to aggressively defend against the charges against you. You may have to defend yourself against criminal charges as well as defend against actions regarding your license to sell alcohol. It’s important to pay attention to deadlines and take the time to carefully build your case.
Your attorney can work with you to build your case. You should carefully review the police report to determine what evidence the state plans to rely on to prove their case. Your attorney can work with you in order to contact witnesses, evaluate an identification card if one was used in the case and examine the credibility of those testifying against you.
Addressing the entire case and preparing your best defense
When you face a charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor, you might also face other charges. The state might charge you with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In addition, if you’re convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor, you might lose your license to sell alcohol for 15 days for a first offense. For multiple convictions, you might lose your license permanently. It’s important to address all aspects of the case in order to work towards the best possible outcome under California law.