May 22, 2007 By Wallin & Klarich

While we all enjoy going to and throwing parties, a good time at a party can very easily turn into a criminal conviction, a jail sentence and a large monetary fine if we are not knowledgeable of the law pertaining to parties. In particular, people are often unaware of the law pertaining to alcohol and underage drinking. There are many harsh penalties that you may be charged with if you serve alcohol to a minor or if you are a minor who is found in possession of alcohol.

Serving Alcohol to a Minor
Serving alcohol to a minor can be criminally punished under a few different penal statutes. Persons who give alcohol to any person under the age of 21 years are guilty of a crime under California Business and Professions Code Section 25658. The penalties for a conviction under this section can include one year in county jail and a fine of $1,000. In addition, a person found guilty under this section may also be found guilty of violating Section 272 of the Penal Code. Section 272 makes it a crime for anyone to contribute to the delinquency of a minor. Under this section, anyone who commits any act or omits the performance of any duty which causes or encourages any person under the age of 18 years to possess alcohol is guilty of a crime. A conviction under this section may be punished by a fine of $2,500, imprisonment in jail and probation for five years. A mistake as to the age of the person given alcohol is not a valid defense to either of these charges. So, combining the penalties of these two sections, if you serve alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years, even if you do not know that they are under 18, you can be fined $3,500 and imprisoned in county jail and placed on probation for five years. This is quite a penalty for throwing a party. The Law Offices of Wallin & Klarich specialize in alcohol related offenses and can often avoid this result by having your charges reduced or dismissed and/or by enrolling clients in programs before the court orders it. The most important thing you can do after you have been arrested is immediately call 1-877-4-NO-JAIL or go to to find out how Wallin & Klarich can help you stay out of jail and avoid a large fine. You will need to take action quickly in order to help Wallin & Klarich win your case.

Possession of Alcohol by Minor
If you are under 21 and are in possession of alcohol, you may also face severe penalties. Any person under the age of 21 years who has any alcoholic beverage in his or her possession in any public place is guilty of a crime under California Business and Professions Code Section 25662 and can be punished by a fine of $250 or the person can be required to perform 32 hours of community service. A second or subsequent violation can subject the person to $500 or 48 hours of community service. Furthermore, service at an alcohol or drug treatment program can also be required. In addition, you will lose your license if you are convicted for this offense. It is most often a very bad idea to plead guilty to a minor in possession of alcohol charge, commonly referred to as “MIP.” You need to speak with your Wallin & Klarich attorney before going to court when accused of this crime. A court will often not tell you that the DMV till take your license until it is too late. For most of us in California, losing your license is a major penalty.

It is important to understand that an MIP is a serious offense. If you do not want a suspended driver’s license, you should not go to court without a lawyer to defend you. Often a Wallin & Klarich lawyer can take legal steps on your behalf to avoid the loss of your driving privileges. Please remember if you are arrested your first call should be to the lawyers at Wallin & Klarich at 877-466-5245.

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