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The Ramifications of Illinois Minor in Possession Charges

July 12th, 2017 at 7:00 am

Class A misdemeanor, juvenile crimes, minor in possession, Rolling Meadows juvenile crimes attorney, underage drinkingFor good or ill, underage drinking is a rite of passage for many young people, though it often leads to legal trouble for those involved.  While such issues are commonly seen as youthful peccadilloes, in reality an underage drinking issue can affect a young adult’s future in a significant manner.

If a parent or authority figure becomes aware of minor in possession charges entered against a son, daughter or ward, it is incumbent upon both them and the young adult to become aware of the potential consequences if convicted of such a charge.

Restrictions & Exceptions

Illinois has very strict regulations regarding minors caught with alcohol. Generally, if one is under the age of 21, it is illegal to either possess or consume alcohol. If they are observed doing so in public or in ‘a place open to the public,’ they may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious class of non-felony offense, and under Illinois law it is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail (not prison—the distinction is fine but important to observe).  

The law does state that a minor may legally consume alcohol at home—thus, not in a public place —without repercussions if they have the approval and direct supervision of a parent (or anyone standing in those proverbial shoes).  Other exceptions do also exist under the relevant statute; however, they are few in number and quite rare to encounter or experience.

One, for example, is that minors may possess or consume alcohol as part of religious ceremonies. While this is a clear-cut exception, it is one that applies to a significant minority of young people caught indulging in alcohol. Most of the time, the absolutist logic of the statute itself will apply—if a minor is caught consuming or possessing alcohol in public, then he or she will almost always be charged with that Class A misdemeanor.

Alternatives to Jail Time

While the majority of defendants in minor possession cases will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, it does not mean that the majority will be convicted of such an offense. Judges also have considerable leeway to impose alternative sentences or add extra requirements that a convicted minor must fulfill. It is, however, required that the defendant be informed of the possible maximum sentence so as to ensure that any guilty plea is voluntary—if the defendant was not specifically informed and still pled guilty, receiving a sentence of jail time, it would open up the possibility of appeal based on lack of understanding of the potential consequences.

In terms of alternative sentences or additional penalties imposed, the most common choices are community service (as opposed to jail time) and court supervision or probation. Supervision in particular tends to be favored for first-time offenders, as successful completion of the supervision period without any further legal trouble leads to a dismissal of the charges and no permanent indication on the defendant’s criminal record.

Consult a Knowledgeable Juvenile Crimes Attorney

Very often, episodes of underage drinking are met with nostalgia or minimizing by friends and family. However, the law does not share such an indulgent view. The passionate Rolling Meadows juvenile crimes attorney at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley will fight for you and do our best to achieve a fair outcome. Contact our offices today to set up an initial appointment.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=073000050K5-6-3.1

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