While most juveniles believe that alcohol possession is a harmless crime, possessing alcohol and drinking underage can have serious long-term consequences. If the juvenile was in possession of alcohol while under the age of 21, it is illegal in New Jersey under the statute N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15. The punishment for this infraction can vary from a fine of $250 or more, probation, and/or mandated enrollment in an alcohol treatment program. In certain cases, there also may be jail time. There are several aspects to the crime of possession of alcohol for a juvenile and they should not be ignored or dismissed by the offenders and their families because they can be expensive and affect the minor’s the future when trying to get into a school, enlist in the military or get a job. All criminal offenses should be taken seriously.
The Definition of Alcohol
In New Jersey, alcohol is defined as a beverage that contains one-half of one percent of alcohol measured by volume such as beer or ale, wine that is not less than 0.5% of alcohol by volume, and any beverage defined as a distilled spirit.
Underage Alcohol Possession Laws in NJ
If a youth under the age of 21 is caught in possession of alcohol, he or she will be charged with a disorderly persons offense. The fine for this can range up to $1,000, but the punishment is far worse if the crime is committed while in a motor vehicle. If the youth is under age 21 but over age 18, they may be tried as an adult. If the youth is under 18, the court must determine whether a charge of delinquency is in order. If the juvenile is found to be delinquent, he or she will likely be enrolled in a program for treatment.
If a juvenile has provided information to mislead the seller of alcohol that he or she is of legal age to purchase it, this is a different infraction than simple possession. If an individual under the age of 21 shows a fake ID to buy alcohol, they can be subject to additional charges under New Jersey’s possession of a fake ID statutes.
When Can a Minor Legally be in Possession of Alcohol?
The law of public possession of alcohol in New Jersey is not violated if the youth was using alcohol as part of a religious tradition and is accompanied by a legal guardian 21-years-old or above, or a parent. It is also permissible to possess alcohol if it is for verifiable medical purposes, or occurs while being employed by a licensed retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer. For example, if the youth drank wine at a church service, has been given the alcohol by a doctor or is working as a helper at a liquor store, it is legal for them to be in possession of alcohol.
Contact an Attorney for Help with a Charge of Underage Alcohol Possession
If you or your child has been charged with underage possession of alcohol, it can result in severe consequences and trouble for a an underage person whether or not something bad happened as a result. For juveniles, the time and money that might have to be spent to clear a charge of this kind can be an expensive inconvenience and they might be forced to attend treatment programs as a result of an adjudication or conviction.
The attorneys at the law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey can help youths and their parents handle a charge of underage alcohol possession and fight to lessen any long-term legal ramifications as a result of a youthful mistake. Villani & DeLuca’s defense lawyers defend underage alcohol possession, underage DWI and underage drinking in New Jersey charges in Ocean County and Monmouth County towns like Red Bank, Brick, Toms River, Belmar and Long Branch. Contact our law office today to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.