Illegal Consumption in North Carolina, Legal Options. Minor with Alcohol, How Does Court Work? How To Deal With Underage Alcohol Possession Charges
Here’s the quick answer: Talk to a Lawyer. Ask some questions. At Powers Landreth, we offer free, confidential consultations. It doesn’t cost you a penny – Bill Powers
See More: NORTH CAROLINA ALCOHOL OFFENSES 2016
What is the Law in North Carolina? What is Allowed?
- Malt Beverages
- Spiritous Liquor
- Unfortified Wine
- 21 Years Old or Older
- Own Use, Without Restriction
See More: Fake ID Bad Idea
Modified Transcript of “How To Deal With Underage Alcohol Possession Charges” for the Hearing Impaired
Hi, I’m Bill Powers. I’m one of the partners here at Powers Landreth, PLLC and just answering questions today from general list serve posts, public message board posts, these aren’t from clients, these are just people asking things publicly what to do. It’s been one of our more popular things on the website so here’s another one.
I got a possession of alcohol nine days before I turned 21, how should I handle the court date? Was at a concert tailgating so that may or may not be relevant depending on where the concert was. I’m now 21, going to my court date next week. Should I get a lawyer or will it get dropped?
Well, the first question I’m going to answer is should you get a lawyer or will it get dropped? I don’t know. I don’t know all the nature and circumstances of things as an attorney. If someone called and asked this question I’d want to ask a series of questions myself in order to provide an answer. The first question or answer I’d want to know is is this your only charge? Is this the only thing you were charged with? I’d want to know your prior history, I want to know what you do. Are you a student? Do you work? I’d want to know kind of the facts and circumstances behind how you came to be charged with the offense of maybe underage possession in this instance. There are times where we see at concerts, maybe someone from ABC or ALE, or even a private security company comes up to a group of young people, demands to see identification.
I’ve had cases before where there were no open containers anywhere in the area, no one had a beer in their hand, officer said, “I smell alcohol on your breath,” and issued citations to every single person there for possession of alcohol. The possession being that you drank it and it’s inside your body. As a lawyer we want to know that the case can be made, the case can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the state. Not that we always encourage, on these type of cases especially, litigation or going to court, there are times that it can be negotiated but the first step as a lawyer is what’s the factual background? What’s the factual scenario that caused this to take place? What is the background as far as prior criminal history and things of that nature?
With these possession cases it’s not unusual to also see an offense or a citation for maybe having a fake ID or using a fake ID. We also at concerts see drug cases, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, sometimes we see felony cases where people in the parking lots selling. We’ve had cases involving heroin or MDMA, ecstasy, molly, heroin, you name it, LSD, we’ve seen it. In the most simple terms, do you always have to hire a lawyer or can you just handle it yourself? Well, you can always go to court and handle it yourself, you can give yourself a haircut too. Sometimes it may work out, sometimes it may not, and the question is, and I think it comes down to especially if you’re in school and younger, is the financial cost of it. There are some times that you just can’t afford to hire a lawyer and there are some cases where the court will not appoint you a lawyer so if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer and you’re not found to be indigent or the type of offense is one or such that a lawyer is not provided, you may be handling it yourself.
There are times where there are deferral programs, defer disposition, doing some community service, getting an alcohol assessment, depending on type of offense, that may be an option. In Mecklenburg County in Charlotte, in fact in some other surrounding counties, Union County, Iredell County, Cabarrus County, Lincoln County, Gaston County, there may be an administrative court where the citation says your name and here’s your court date. That may not be a trial date, which may mean that you need to go to court to get another court date. Then the question is how many times are you having to go to court? How many times are you having to park and take off work, or take off school, and is it worth it to you to miss those days out of school or work?
Here’s the quick answer though, call up a lawyer. Ask some questions. We, at our firm, Powers Landreth, we offer free confidential consultations so that means it’s on our dime. It doesn’t cost you a penny. We’ll answer questions, we’ll tell you how we think we can help, if we can help. In fact, this sometimes just floors people, but there are times where we tell people, “Hey, this is probably something you can probably handle yourself.” There are other times where we recommend if you can’t hire us, try to hire somebody else. The free confidential consultation, no kidding, we don’t tell anything about it, if you’re underage we don’t even tell your parents about it. If your parents call up there is confidentiality. The only time we talk to others about your case is if you give us permission to do so. It’s a good question, we see a lot of these in the fall. We see them with a lot of freshman that are going off to colleges, and we also see them when people are about to turn of age. They just can’t wait.
When I started … and we don’t come with a sense of judgment on these things, we’re not judging our clients, when I was in college, drinking age was 18 but it was a different standard, and it was a different world then. Because of the consequences with any criminal offense, and it could just be as minor as embarrassing when you’re applying for a job or having a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony. It makes sense to talk to a lawyer and that’s what we do, we help people. Please give us a ring, love to hear from you.