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Archive for the ‘minor in possession’ tag

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.


Law Enforcement Prepared for St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

March 20th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

underage drinking, holiday, St. Patrick's Day, Illinois, DUI, MIPSt. Patrick’s Day means ham and cabbage for some and imbibing substantial amounts of alcohol for others. Particularly for the college-age students, it seems that law enforcement in Illinois is aware of, and cracking down on, those who choose to participate in the latter.

 Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day

According to a recent article, law enforcement agencies met with representatives from the University of Illinois to discuss ways to mitigate the risks that are commonly associated with the celebration of unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. Even though both groups have tried to discourage people from participating in the event, they realize that some partake nonetheless.  According to police, the event promotes both underage and binge drinking and results in injuries and even fatalities in years past.

 Breaking the Law

Both law enforcement and University offices and agencies planned ahead of time to work together during the event to enforce laws relating to underage drinking, private parties, and drunk driving, among other hazards. They discussed holding tenants responsible for the conduct of any party attendees, including limiting the number of people on balconies and refraining from throwing objects from them, as required by local ordinances. Hosts of parties who violated any laws, including allowing alcohol consumption by those under 21, will face criminal charges and not solely a city ordinance violation.

However, if a life-threatening situation exists, such as in the case of alcohol poisoning, individuals were urged to call for help and to not avoid doing so for fear of criminal prosecution. These extraneous circumstances likely caused law enforcement to use discretion and choose not to assert the full extent of criminal penalties. As long as there is cooperation, citations from either law enforcement or the University will not be issued to those who call 9-1-1 for help in a dangerous situation.

 Preparing for Unofficial

In light of the holiday, many organizations participated in Walk as One, a program that is meant to spread alcohol safety information to students. Participants knocked on the doors of students to distribute the information directly. In addition to the walk, law enforcement also gave safety presentations to a number of student groups during the last several weeks, and plan on using social media to spread safety information as well.

However, it seems as though some of this preparation may be in vain. Law enforcement recognized that much of the problem lies with people who come to celebrate the holiday from outside communities and have no ties to the University. In fact, over half of the arrests made last year were of students who were not attending the University of Illinois. In that case, the University said it is prepared to contact other schools regarding student’s actions during the event.

Despite the effort of law enforcement and the University to create a safe environment, it is up to the participants of the event to be responsible. If participants choose not to be safe, it is clear that they should be prepared to face action by law enforcement resulting in criminal charges, and action by the school ranging from sanctions to dismissal.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI or alcohol related crime in the state of Illinois, an experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

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