Indulging in an alcoholic beverage while underage may seem like fun and a rite of passage, but one act could have far-reaching consequences. Consuming or possessing alcohol if you are under 21 is a crime in New Jersey. If you are arrested and convicted of underage drinking, you will not only face immediate legal penalties, but the impact could hurt your ability to find work and housing in the future.
If you or your child was arrested for possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage, contact our Ventnor, NJ underage drinking attorney immediately. Charges and penalties related to underage drinking are severe and you need the representation of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to help minimize the negative impact. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free, confidential consultation to review your case and start crafting your defense.
Underaged Drinking in Ventnor
Under New Jersey law, the possession and consumption of alcohol by an underage individual is a criminal offense. Classified as a disorderly persons offense, any person who knowingly consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage in a public place, motor vehicle, or school violates section N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 and could be criminally charged.
Persons Under 18 Years of Age Charged with Underage Drinking in Ventnor
If you are charged with underage drinking in New Jersey and are under the age of 18, you will be charged as a juvenile. This is an important distinction as your case will be tried through the Family Court system rather than the criminal courts. At any court proceeding, you are entitled to have the representation of our experienced Ventnor attorney.
As a juvenile, if you are found guilty of the consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage, you will be considered delinquent. This is distinguished from an adult criminal conviction and the sentence imposed will reflect this distinction. A New Jersey judge is granted broad discretion when deciding on the sentence imposed on a juvenile, but the legal standard is the best interest of the child. A judge will consider the circumstances of your case, your exact age, previous history or record, and evaluate your needs compared with the social services and remedial programs available.
Typical sentences will be comprised of several of the following:
- Community service
- Mandatory substance abuse treatment
- Detention in a juvenile facility
- Suspension or delay of driving privileges
- Monetary restitution
If you are facing underage drinking charges, our seasoned Ventnor attorney will tirelessly work to achieve the best possible result, given your specific circumstances.
Underage Drinking and Motor Vehicles in Ventnor, NJ
It is critical to understand the severity of underage drinking when a vehicle is involved. It is illegal for an underaged person to have an alcoholic beverage while in a vehicle, even if the beverage is sealed. Additionally, if you are underaged, you could be charged with driving under the influence if the car is parked and not currently in operation.
Underage Drinking and Persons Over 18 Years of Age in Ventnor, New Jersey
If you are over the age of 18, but under the legal age of 21, you are considered an adult under New Jersey law. Therefore, if you are charged with underage drinking, your case will move through the criminal court system. If you are found guilty of consuming or possessing alcohol, the potential legal consequences include a six-month jail sentence and up to $1,000 in fines and penalties.
Conduct that Constitutes Underage Drinking in Ventnor
Being guilty of underage drinking does not necessarily require drinking alcohol. There are a number of behaviors that are prohibited under New Jersey law if you are under 21.
- Buying or attempting to buy alcohol
- Giving false information regarding your age or using false identification
- Using another person to purchase alcohol on your behalf
- Going into a liquor store
There are some exemptions under New Jersey law. A minor is allowed to consume alcohol as part of a religious service. Additionally, with the permission of a parent and that parent present, a minor could possess and consume an alcoholic beverage on private property. Also, exemptions exist for individuals under 21 who are employed in the restaurant and hospitality industries and are required to handle liquor as part of their employment.
Consequences of Underage Drinking in Ventnor, NJ
Underaged drinking charges are serious and could have long-lasting adverse effects on your life beyond your initial sentence. A conviction will go on your permanent criminal record and could impact your ability to find employment or housing years after the act. Additionally, if you are a student, you could lose or not be able to qualify for a college scholarship.
Our Ventnor attorney will thoroughly review all the facts and evidence surrounding your case to prepare a defense strategy. Often, we can negotiate down to a lesser charge, avoiding some of the more severe consequences associated with an underage drinking charge. If a trial is likely or unavoidable, our lawyers will prepare a vigorous defense and bring a combined 45 years of experience working on your behalf.
Call Our Ventnor, NJ Underage Drinking Attorney for a Free Consultation
It is vital to take an arrest for underage drinking seriously. Without proper legal representation, you could be throwing away your entire future on one misguided decision. Our Ventnor, NJ underage drinking attorneys bring a combined 45 years of legal experience to assist you or your child. Do not let one choice ruin your future, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free appointment to review your rights and options.