Minor in Possession of Alcohol (a.k.a. MIP)

San Mateo Criminal Defense Lawyers

You may have just been walking down when the police stopped you. Unfortunately for you this was right after your friend just handed you his or her water bottle that was filled with vodka or gin. Or, you may have been in a car with your friends and the cops discover some beer behind the rear passenger seat. Nobody owns up to the alcohol and now you are all arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol.

In California, the California Business and Professions Code Section 25662 defines Minor in Possession of Alcohol as any person under the age of 21 years who has any alcoholic beverage in his or her possession on any street or highway or in any public place or in any place open to the public.

In order for the prosecutor to prove someone is guilty of being a minor in possession of alcohol the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  1. 1. The defendant [unlawfully] possessed an alcoholic beverage (in/on) a (street[,]/ [or] highway[,]/ [or] public place[,]/ [or] a place open to the public); AND
  2. At the time, the defendant was under 21 years old.

An alcoholic beverage is a liquid or solid material intended to be consumed that contains one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume.

Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun.

Sentences for Minor in Possession of Alcohol

A minor in possession of alcohol is guilty of a misdemeanor. A first conviction shall be punished by a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) or the person shall be required to perform not less than 24 hours or more than 32 hours of community service during hours when the person is not employed or is not attending school. A second or subsequent violation shall be punishable as a misdemeanor and the person shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or required to perform not less than 36 hours or more than 48 hours of community service during hours when the person is not employed or is not attending school, or a combination of fine and community service as the court deems just. Additionally, the minor will face a mandatory suspension of their drivers' license for a year. [Cal. Veh. Code § 13202.5].

Defending Your Child against Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charges

There are statutory defenses for being a minor in possession of alcohol. For example,

"This section does not apply to possession by a person under the age of 21 years making a delivery of an alcoholic beverage in pursuance of the order of his or her parent, responsible adult relative, or any other adult designated by the parent or legal guardian, or in pursuance of his or her employment. That person shall have a complete defense if he or she was following, in a timely manner, the reasonable instructions of his or her parent, legal guardian, responsible adult relative, or adult designee relating to disposition of the alcoholic beverage."

Additionally, there may be other defense. Consider the two scenarios in the introduction above. In the first scenario, the minor may not have known that there was alcohol in the water bottle that his or her friend handed to him or her. Therefore, the minor would have a complete defense if he or she did not knowingly possess the alcohol.

In the second scenario, the minor may not have possessed the alcohol at all. The alcohol may have belonged to one of his or her friends. More importantly, this minor may not have had the right to possess the alcohol at all. If that is the case, the minor cannot be guilty of possessing the alcohol.

Redwood City Minor in Possession of Alcohol Defense Lawyers

If you are a minor or a parent of a minor who has been accused of possessing alcohol in public, contact us right away. We will gladly talk to you about preparing a defense for a minor charged with possessing alcohol in San Jose, Palo Alto, South San Francisco or any other Bay Area City.