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California Selling Or Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor Lawyer – Business And Professions Code 25658

Should I Find A Selling Or Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor Lawyer?

You began bartending to make extra cash while you took some college courses. This job helps pay for your books and tuition. It’s a regular night when someone asks you for a drink. You hardly skim over the person. You’ve been working for hours when the customer flashes an ID, and you nod your head. You begin pouring a drink. You watch as the patron downs it, noticing that the person has on a college sweatshirt. Before you know it, an angry parent storms up and tells you that you just sold alcohol to a 19-year-old. Continue reading to see what California laws say about selling alcohol to minors.

Were you charged with selling alcohol to minors in California? Contact My Rights Law‘s alcohol crime lawyer who has extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused in criminal cases, including a range of alcohol-related offenses. We can help you understand what is at stake. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will work tirelessly to protect your rights and defend you in your criminal case. If you have been charged with selling alcohol to a minor in California, call (888) 702-8882 or contact us through our secure web form for a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys.

Is It A Crime To Sell Or Furnish Alcohol To A Minor In California?

When you think of providing alcohol to a minor, you might think of parents who knowingly provide teens with beer. An event such as that typically occurs during some sort of party or celebration. Or perhaps you think of teenagers paying an older person, such as a stranger or cousin, to go inside a store and buy them a 12-pack of beer. A judge or jury may find both parties guilty of this misdemeanor crime in either scenario. But bear in mind, California law doesn’t require you to have knowledge of the person’s age when you provide them with alcohol.

You’ve unlawfully provided alcohol to a minor when you:

  • Sell or give alcohol to anyone younger than 21-years-old;
  • Permit anyone younger than 21-years-old to consume alcohol on the premises of your business;
  • Purchase alcohol for anyone younger than 21-years-old to consume.[1]

As you can see, knowledge of the drinker’s age isn’t mentioned. All that matters is that the person was, in fact, underage at the time of offering or consumption. That’s why this crime is called a strict liability offense. This means that prosecutors don’t need to prove you malicious or ill intent to commit a crime. Unfortunately, the state can hold you accountable for an innocent mistake.[2] Not to mention, if you give alcohol to minors and those minors cause serious bodily injury to themselves or others, a prosecutor may charge you with a criminal misdemeanor, as well.

Typically, the law permits parents to give alcohol to their children when they are at least 18, and the drinking occurs within their home. The law doesn’t permit you to intoxicate your child (meaning their BAC is 0.05 or greater) and let that child operate a vehicle, resulting in an accident, however.[3]

What Are The Penalties For Selling Or Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor In California?

It depends on which subsection of this crime you broke to determine what your punishment will likely be. For example, if you’re a business that sells alcohol, and you allow underage drinkers to drink on your premises, you’re at risk of facing a $250 fine and anywhere from 24 to 32 hours of community service. Generally, whenever you break this law, a judge may sentence you to anywhere from 24 to more than 32 hours of community service if you’re unemployed and not in school.

If you’re a parent who broke this law, you can expect to face upwards of one year in county jail and a $1000 fine, probation, or a combination of some sort.

If you sold or gave alcohol to an underage person, you’re at risk of facing up to six months in county jail, paying a $1000 fine, or both. The prosecutor can also put you on probation. That’s six months or so that you’re away from your family and out of work. Will your job re-hire you once you’re out? It’s hard to say. If you have children, do you want to miss out on seeing them off to school or having them ask you to help them with their homework? What about if you were in school? Without a doubt, you’ll have to drop out of that semester, and you may lose all those credits because you failed to complete your courses. Not to mention, some schools will deny you if you have a criminal record.

Don’t take this offense lightly merely because it’s a misdemeanor charge. If when you provided a minor with alcohol and this caused someone great bodily injury, then you might serve up to one year in county jail (instead of six months). You can also expect to do a minimum of 24 hours of community service. A judge may add other forms of punishment depending on the nature of your case.

Furthermore, if you’re a business and this happens to you or an employee, there’s a strong possibility you’ll lose your liquor license, or the city will shut down your establishment temporarily. As you know, having a liquor license is lucrative for any business, especially bars and restaurants. Patrons love drinking while they have fun. If you lose your permit to sell alcohol, you can almost guarantee that most of your clientele will go, as well. Now that you understand how serious this charge is, consider hiring an expert criminal defense attorney to represent you. A skillful California defense lawyer will know which defenses to use on your behalf.

What Are Viable Defenses To Selling Alcohol To Minors in California?

There are some defenses available to you. If you’re a store that sells alcohol, you can argue a mistake of fact defense.[4] In this case, you may argue that you reasonably relied on a real belief that a fake ID was real. How this defense will hold up in court turns on how authentic the form of ID appeared.[5] If it was missing the government seal or had a strange or obviously incorrect address, for example, this defense may not hold water.

If you’re a parent who furnished alcohol to your child and this resulted in your child driving drunk and causing a traffic accident, your defenses might include:

  • You didn’t provide the alcohol
  • You didn’t put your child in the presence of alcohol
  • You didn’t willingly permit your child to drive

Most importantly, though, while it’s true that selling alcohol to a minor is a strict liability offense, experienced California criminal defense attorneys know how to use a mistake of fact defense if the circumstances allow it. It’s always best to consult with knowledgeable attorneys to have a clearer idea of how to move forward with your case.

Call My Rights Law Today

We at My Rights Law have been representing the people of California for years. We’ve seen it all, heard it all, and have litigated the majority of it. But, more than anything, we believe in protecting your rights and freedoms. We know how embarrassing and debilitating a criminal conviction can be. It can take a toll on your life, well beyond any length of time that you serve. That’s why we fight aggressively for you.

When the state charges you with a crime that can strip you of your liberty and put you behind metal bars, you’ll want to consult with attorneys on whom you can rely. Don’t wait. Call us today at (888) 702-8882 or contact us by filling out our secure web form for a free, confidential consultation.

[1] Refer to California Business And Professions Code 25658.
[2] Refer to California Jury Instructions – Criminal (CALJIC) 4.35.
[3] Refer to California Business And Professions Code 25658.
[4] Refer to In re Jennings, (2004) 34 Cal. 4th 254, where the Court permitted a mistake of fact defense under limited circumstances.
[5] Refer to Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Bd. (2004) 118 Cal.App.4th 1429 at 1437, where the Court held a fake ID that purports to be a government-issued ID may be used as a defense.

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