Soliciting Purchase Of Alcohol: Penal Code § 303(a) PC
In the state of California, one does not necessarily need to commit a crime in order to be charged with a criminal offense. In some cases, asking another individual to commit a crime is enough to warrant a charge to be levied. This is the case for asking someone else to purchase alcoholic beverages for you. While there are many different reasons why you might not be able to purchase alcohol within the state of California, that same law would apply to others not being allowed to buy it for you either. For these reasons, it is important to understand what this statute entails and to know the possible defenses that can be lodged when charged with solicitation to purchase alcohol in California.
Some individuals are not permitted to buy alcohol because they are under the age of 21. Others may have been tossed out of an alcohol store and told that they are no able to purchase alcoholic beverages there. Still others might not have enough money to purchase the alcohol in the first place. This might not seem like much of a crime, but asking someone else to purchase alcohol for you in California, under certain circumstances, can result in a criminal conviction. Since mandatory jail time is the penalty if convicted, this is one statute that does need to be taken seriously.
To be proven guilty of the charge of solicitation to purchase alcohol in California, there are two conditions that must be met. These are:
The individual needs to have been around the premises of a business where alcoholic beverages are sold.
The individual needs to have asked another person entering the business to buy him or her alcoholic beverages on their behalf.
It is important to know that you can be charged for this crime even if you, yourself, are legally able to buy alcohol. For example, imagine you went out to purchase alcohol only to discover that you forgot your identification at home. Rather than return home, you try to get someone entering the store to buy alcohol on your behalf. Under the provisions of this statute, you could still be charged with solicitation to purchase alcohol in California.
There are specific provisions that must be met in order for this charge to stick. If you simply ask your friend to buy a bottle of whiskey because you have forgotten your wallet at home, for example, you would not be guilty of solicitation. The reason is that you were not loitering outside a liquor store. Likewise, you would not be guilty of violating this statute if you were inside a bar trying to get others to buy you drinks. You wold be considered a patron of a bar, not of an alcohol store.
Possible Defenses for Solicitation to Purchase Alcohol in California
If you have been charged with this crime, you will want to take it seriously. A conviction will remain on your record forever, and your work prospects could be harmed as a result. However, remember that just being charged for this crime does not mean you are guilty. The act of asking another person to buy alcohol for you does not necessarily mean that you can be charged under this statute.
In order to be found guilty, you must be shown to have been actively loitering around a business that is known to sell alcohol, and then beg another individual right around you to go and buy alcohol for you. Both of these variables must be present in order for this charge to stick. Asking your friend to run out to the store to buy you alcohol, even though you know you would not be permitted to yourself, is not grounds for a charge of solicitation.
Possible Penalties for a Conviction
A conviction for solicitation to purchase alcohol is a misdemeanor offense in the state of California. If you are found guilty, it can result in up to six months in prison. A hefty court fine can also be levied, and there are other conditions, such as probation, that could be levied by the judge. This particular statute carries a provision that nearly everyone convicted must serve a minimum of thirty days in jail. This is different than many other misdemeanors in California, so it speaks to the importance of mounting a vigorous defense on your behalf.
If you, or someone you know, has been charged with solicitation to purchase alcohol in California, you will want to consult with a professional and experienced attorney right away. The consequences of a conviction are simply too severe. A defense can be mounted, and you are not guilty until it is proven in a court of law.