Can you go to jail for hosting a house party in New Jersey? Possibly—if criminal activities are taking place under your roof. You might also get in trouble if your house is used by someone else for a party, say, if your kids host a party while you're out of town. There might be serious repercussions for you.
Are House Parties a Crime in NJ?
Hosting a party is, obviously, not a crime in New Jersey. If the neighbors call the police to complain about noise, the most you'll get is fined for a noise violation. You can't go to jail for having a loud party after hours.
The trouble starts if there are criminal activities taking place at your party, under your roof. The most notable example is underage drinking. Under New Jersey law, providing alcohol to underage minors purposely or knowingly is a disorderly persons offense. This offense carries a sentence of up to six months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. Additionally, if serving the minor alcohol results in the child being injured, you could be charged with endangering the welfare of children, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $15,000.
There's an exception for parents and guardians, however. If your kids throw a house party while you're away and get into your liquor cabinet, you can't be charged with providing your underage kids with alcohol. You might be charged, however, with providing your kids' friends with alcohol.
Can You Get in Trouble for a Party if You Weren't There?
Parents can get in trouble for hosting an underage drinking party in New Jersey, even if they weren't at home at the time of the party. However, the law states that it's a crime if you knowingly allow underage drinking to happen on your property. If your kids had the party without your permission and you can prove it, you might be able to avoid being charged with a disorderly persons offense. Getting sufficient proof to clear your name might require the help of a criminal defense attorney.
What to Do If You Are Charged for a Party at Your Residence
If you get charged with endangering child welfare, serving alcohol to minors, or another criminal offense related to a party that took place at your house, you should contact the New Jersey criminal defense team at the Lento Law Firm. They have helped people throughout New Jersey who have been charged with crimes ranging from disorderly persons offenses to felonies.