If anyone under the legal drinking age - that is, 21 - drinks alcohol or is in possession of it while in a car, at school, or in a public place, they could be in significant trouble. Your child might not think of underage drinking as a big deal. Their friends may do it. Your child may be experiencing peer pressure.
Regardless of the circumstances, underage drinking is dangerous. The state of New Jersey takes underage drinking very seriously. If caught, your child could face stiff punishments, even if your child is under 18.
You and your child will need the help of an experienced legal professional to navigate any charges and mitigate any consequences in an underage drinking case. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience helping people out of these types of predicaments, and he can do the same for you.
Underage Drinking Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey State Law makes it very clear: According to the legislature of the state, persons under the age of 21 may not legally purchase, consume, or possess alcoholic beverages. This law is very similar to those in other states. However, the instant repercussion for breaking the law differs slightly in New Jersey. Where the underage person breaking similar laws in other states would face charges for a misdemeanor, in New Jersey, your child would face charges of a ‘disorderly person's offense.'
It's important to note that your child does not have to actually consume the alcohol to receive punitive measures for underage drinking. Mere possession may be enough to begin court action and disciplinary proceedings. Also, if your child attends a party where underage drinking or illegal drugs are available, they may be vulnerable to charges, even if they did not partake. New Jersey law notes that even if they did not consume alcohol, your child might still face charges.
If your child is under the age of 18 when the infraction took place, they will face charges as a juvenile. This will affect their punishment, as well as the type of proceedings you and your family will face. If your child is between the ages of 18 and 21, their charges will be that of an adult.
Common Penalties for Drinking Underage in NJ
It is vitally important that you work to protect your child's rights in an underage drinking case. While your child may have justified it as youthful folly, even if it's very clear that they made a mistake, a court of law will see it otherwise. The repercussions of their actions could follow them for the rest of their lives.
If your child is between the ages of 18 and 21, they may face the following consequences:
- Possession of alcohol may lead to a fine. This fine could be anywhere between $500 and $1000.
- Alternatively, as they face a disorderly person's offense, your child could face jail time - of up to 180 days.
- Finally, depending upon the circumstances of your child's infraction, the presiding judge could require that your child attend treatment or sobriety programs for up to six months.
If your child was in a vehicle at the time of consumption - whether they were driving or not - the state will automatically suspend their driver's license, in addition to any other consequences the judge deems appropriate.
For any defendants in an underage drinking case under 18 years of age, their case will face adjudication by a juvenile delinquency hearing. The result of this process could be equally severe: Your child could face placement in a non-residential or residential treatment center, to ensure that the offense does not occur again.
As you can see, the consequence for underage drinking in New Jersey can be quite severe. Having any of these charges or punishments on your child's record can make it more difficult for them to get into the school of their dreams, or start their career well when they need to do so. Working with a competent legal advisor can go a long way towards ensuring that your child has a good outcome in this case.
Benefits of Working with a Lawyer in Your Child's Underage Drinking Case
When you and your family face underage drinking charges after the actions of your child, you'll immediately find that comes with a lot of paperwork and difficult decisions. If you've never examined evidence or prepared for a court hearing before, you may very quickly find yourself overwhelmed.
Fortunately, you don't have to take care of your child's charges yourself. An experienced attorney can do the heavy lifting from you. From researching precedent, analyzing the specific laws in New Jersey, and even interviewing witnesses to mount a favorable defense, the right lawyer can make an incredible difference in your child's underage drinking case.
Whether you're looking for assistance with the best way to proceed, defense statements, or any other part of the underage drinking punitive process, working alongside an experienced misconduct lawyer or legal advisor is a good idea. Contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as early as you possibly can in your child's case. Taking this step proactively is one of the best things you can do to protect your child's rights - and to preserve their unmarred future.
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Handle Your Child's Underage Drinking Case
If your family faces underage drinking charges, warranted or not, you're going to need expert legal assistance. After all, your child is young. You don't want heavy charges or notations on their permanent records to follow them for the rest of their life. As soon as you can after learning about your child's charges, you need to reach out to Joseph D. Lento. He has fundamentally handled hundreds of similar cases, and he will work tirelessly to help you and your family navigate the process before you. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm to learn more about working towards a favorable outcome for your child's underage drinking case. For a consultation, contact him today at 888-535-3686.