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Minor in Possession & Consumption Defense Attorney in Phoenix

One mistake that many parents make is to take their juvenile or young adult’s misdemeanor alcohol charge lightly. They assume that the courts will be lenient when it comes to dispensing a minor-in-possession or minor-in-consumption case. The truth of the matter is that each Phoenix criminal defense attorney has to work hard to keep their youthful clients from some of the more serious consequences of alcohol violations. 

Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C. is a Phoenix and Tucson criminal defense law firm that has successfully defended hundreds of juvenile clients against underage drinking charges, underage DUI, and similar offenses. Contact us today to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Woman holding a glass with an alcoholic drink

Criminal Charges for Underage Drinking in AZ

Arizona revised statute 4-244 describes a litany of charges regarding the sale of alcohol to minors. If you’ve been charged with providing alcohol to a person under the legal drinking age (21 years old in Arizona), you could face serious criminal charges. You should contact an attorney immediately.

If you’re a juvenile and you’re caught consuming or possessing alcohol, you could be facing a Minor-in-Consumption (MIC) or Minor-in-Possession (MIP) charge. While both are criminal offenses, there is a difference between the required probable cause and the potential penalties.  There are also criminal charges which relate to the use or possession of a “fake ID” to use or purchase alcohol.  These cases can even be charged as felony matters under certain circumstances.  Penalties can impact not only jail time and fines, but also the loss of driving privileges (even in cases which do not involve driving a vehicle at all).

Minor in Consumption 

The police charge this when they believe that a person under the age of 21 has been drinking. You do not need to have an alcoholic beverage for this charge to apply. The police must demonstrate that you were engaged in underage drinking. In many instances, they will issue you a ticket that requires you to appear in court. This is a class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to $750 in fines and up to four months in jail. Additionally, you could have a criminal record, which can be a hindrance when it comes to job and educational opportunities. 

Minor in Possession 

This charge applies when the police find a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage. The Arizona statute does not require you to consume spirituous liquor for this law to apply. A Minor in possession charge is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to $2,500 in fines and up to six months in jail. As is the case with a MIC, you could also incur a criminal record which can be a hindrance when it comes to job and educational opportunities.    

Limiting The Effects Of a MIP or MIC Misdemeanor Charge

There is no good way to be charged with a crime, but some criminal offenses carry more serious penalties than others. The State of Arizona and the Maricopa County and Pima County courts recognize that being caught in possession of alcohol should not always have long-ranging effects on minors’ lives. 

Many MIP/MIC charges are filed in justice courts or city courts throughout Arizona.

The good news is there are ways to mitigate the damage that a MIP or MIC charge has on a young person’s future. 

Don’t Miss Court

If you are issued a ticket or arrested and don’t show up to your next court date, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest. While your re-arrest may not result in a new criminal charge necessarily, it will, at the very least, be inconvenient. And it could also signal to the court that you haven’t learned your lesson and require a stiffer penalty. Be advised, however, that missing a court date can result in additional criminal charges (i.e., failure to appear) being filed against you.

Don’t Argue With the Police on the Scene

Trying to talk your way out of a charge seldom works. In fact, it could be used as part of the probable cause to demonstrate that you were under the influence of alcohol. You shouldn’t admit guilt, but arguing with the police will likely get you into more trouble. Simply tell the police, politely, that you cannot answer any questions without an attorney present and ask to contact an attorney as soon as possible.  As stated elsewhere throughout our website, you should not talk with the police–about anything–in connection with a criminal matter without having consulted with an attorney beforehand.

Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer

You may think that retaining the services of a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer is excessive for a misdemeanor alcohol violation, but you mustn’t take any criminal charge lightly. While it is true that a judge is extremely unlikely to send you to jail for a first-time offense underage drinking violation, you still have to contend with an arrest record. 

A lighter sentence isn’t automatic. You never know when a judge will decide to use the maximum sentencing guidelines. The Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton P.C. can review your criminal case to see if there is a chance of getting the charges dismissed. If the case is solid, they can help minimize the penalties. They can also petition the court to seal or expunge their criminal record. 

Man writing in the book lying on the table

Frequently Asked Questions About Arizona Alcohol Charges

At the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, a significant portion of the criminal cases we handle are for young defendants, and alcohol is frequently involved. These are some of the most commonly asked questions by individuals charged with minor in possession or minor consumption. 

How much is a minor in-consumption ticket in Arizona?

Unlike a traffic ticket for speeding that you can pay online, a minor in consumption ticket requires an appearance in court. If you’re found guilty, you could pay up to $750 in fines, but that’s not the biggest problem. You could also be sentenced to up to four months in jail and a criminal defense lawyer can represent you in court. 

If I only received a ticket, will I still have an arrest record?

If you receive a MIC ticket, for all intents and purposes, you’ve been arrested and released on your own recognizance. You will have a criminal record, which is why you need an experienced juvenile crimes attorney to represent you. 

A private criminal defense firm, like the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, P.C. has the ability to manage our caseload in the way that we believe is in the best interest of our clients. We can allocate the time and resources to the criminal cases that we need. If you have been arrested or issued a summons for a juvenile drinking crime, contact our Phoenix law office today.