Thursday, April 25, 2024

Feature Article: Understanding Minor in Possession Charges in Arizona

Being charged with a minor in possession offense in Arizona can have serious consequences. Apart from the embarrassment of being caught, minors convicted of MIP offenses may face jail time, fines, and other legal penalties. In this feature article, we will discuss everything you need to know about defending against a minor in possession charge, including what it is, the penalties, how long it stays on your record, and possible defenses.

What is a Minor in Possession Charge?

A minor in possession charge, or MIP, refers to the possession, consumption, or attempt to purchase alcohol by a person who is under the age of 21. The legal drinking age in Arizona, as in all states in the U.S., is 21 years. Even a sip of beer or wine can result in an MIP charge for an individual under 21. Additionally, purchasing alcohol with a fake ID is also considered an MIP charge.

Penalties for MIP Charge

In Arizona, the penalties for MIP offenses can be severe. For a first-time offense, a minor may face a fine of up to $500, community service, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education program. A second or subsequent offense may result in a felony charge, which can lead to imprisonment, fines, and a criminal record with serious long-term consequences.

How Long Does an MIP Stay on Your Record in Arizona?

For minors convicted of MIP offenses in Arizona, the offense may remain on their criminal record for a long time. Depending on the circumstances, an offense of this nature can be sealed or expunged from a person's record. However, in most cases, an MIP offense will remain on an individual's record until they turn 99 years old. This means that a conviction for MIP can affect a person's chances of obtaining employment, education, and even housing opportunities.

Caught with a Fake ID at Your Local College Bar

Using a fake ID to purchase alcohol is a serious offense in Arizona, which can lead to an MIP charge. College campuses are often the center of MIP and fake ID charges, with many students using false identification to bypass the drinking age requirement. Unfortunately, being caught with a fake ID at a local college bar can result in serious legal consequences.

DUI and a Minor In Possession Charge

In some cases, MIP charges may be joined with a DUI charge, especially if the minor was driving under the influence of alcohol. For example, if a minor is driving with a BAC level of 0.08% or above, they may face both an MIP and DUI charge. The penalties for a DUI charge in Arizona are severe and can include jail time, fines, and license suspension. Therefore, minors charged with both MIP and DUI offenses should seek help from an experienced attorney who can guide them through the legal process.

Defenses to a Minor in Possession Charge

There are various defenses that a minor who has been charged with MIP in Arizona can use.

  • No possession of alcohol: A minor can challenge an MIP charge if there is no evidence of possession of alcohol.
  • Violation of rights: If the police officer obtained evidence against the minor through an illegal search or seizure, the evidence may be challenged in court, leading to the dismissal of the case.
  • Mistaken identity: In some cases, minors may be mistaken for someone else who was in possession of alcohol.
  • Emergency: If the minor was in possession of alcohol due to a medical emergency, such as giving alcohol to someone in distress, this can be a valid defense for MIP charges.

Free Consultation With An Attorney

If you've been charged with a minor in possession offense in Arizona, it's crucial to seek legal representation. A knowledgeable attorney can provide legal guidance and help you to build a strong defense in your case. At Kolsrud Law Offices, we offer a free consultation to help clients understand their charges and possible defenses. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Arizona minor, defending