Skilled Defense Attorneys Advocating for Clients Facing Providing Alcohol to Minors Charges
Accused of Serving Alcohol to Minors in Toms River, Seaside Heights, Brick, Jackson, Point Pleasant, or Elsewhere in Ocean County? Don’t Hesitate to Consult our Defense Lawyers for Guidance
In a 2019 survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 28% of teenagers reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days. It is estimated that over 70% of teenagers consume alcohol at least once before they turn 18 years old. However, while the consumption of alcohol by minors may seem commonplace in today’s culture, providing alcohol to an individual under the age of 21 is a criminal offense in New Jersey that is actively prosecuted. Friends, homeowners, bars, restaurants, and homeowners who may consider making alcohol available to a minor must understand that their actions could result in a criminal conviction, jail time, and fines.
If you find yourself accused of providing alcohol to a minor or any related offenses, we will vigorously safeguard your rights and prepare a solid case for court representation. Clients in Ocean and Monmouth County, including locations such as Lavallette, Seaside Heights, Ocean Township, Point Pleasant, Mantoloking, Lacey, Ocean Grove, and Manalapan, can seek legal support from Bronzino Law Firm by calling (732) 812-3102 for a free initial consultation, you can also complete our online form.
New Jersey’s Position on Serving Alcohol to Minors
There are important reasons why the state of New Jersey considers serving alcohol to minors a serious crime. When teenagers and adolescents consume alcohol, it has negative effects on their physical, mental, and social development. Individuals under the influence of alcohol have diminished decision making capabilities. This is even more true for minors, whose frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for risk assessment, is not yet fully formed.
When minors consume alcohol, they tend to perform worse in school and experience changes in brain development. They also have a higher risk of consuming controlled substances, being involved in criminal activity, and committing or being the victim of sexual violence. Therefore, one major aim of the law against serving alcohol to minors is to protect their wellbeing, safety, and health.
The law also aims to prevent drunk driving accidents. No individual may legally operate a motor vehicle when their blood alcohol content is above the legal limit, but a minor has even further diminished decision making abilities when consuming alcohol. While an adult may consume alcohol and arrange for a designated driver (though certainly not all adults do), a minor is less likely to have the forethought, wherewithal, or resources to ensure safe transportation after they have been drinking. With minors at a heightened risk of making poor decisions, NJ law seeks to deter and punish adults that contribute to underage drinking, which can lead to deadly consequences.
The Act of Illegally Providing Alcohol to a Minor in New Jersey
The legal drinking age in New Jersey is 21 years of age. If you knowingly or purposefully give alcohol to a minor, sell alcohol to a minor, purchase alcohol for a minor, or allow a minor to consume alcohol on your property, then you can be charged with a criminal offense. There are a few exceptions, which include the consumption of alcohol for religious reasons or when a parent is serving alcohol to their child while inside their home.
Specifically, individuals can be charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17, which makes it a crime to knowingly or purposely provide, sell, or make available alcohol to an individual under the age of 21 in New Jersey. Criminal liability also extends to homeowners who are prohibited from making their property available to another person to serve alcohol or make it available to minors. In State v. Haarde, the court found that the statute did not limit the culpability of this offense to individuals aged 21 or older but rather found that any adult aged 18 or older could be found guilty of this offense.
N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17 is classified as a disorderly persons offense. If convicted, the penalties for this offense include up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Requirements to Expunge Supplying Alcohol to Minors Offenses in NJ
Expungement allows the record of a criminal offense to be cleared from an individual’s criminal record, providing various benefits to the defendant, including increased employment opportunities and housing options. While it is possible to expunge the record of a conviction for providing alcohol to a minor, you must wait 5 years before you can apply for expungement, provided you are otherwise eligible.
Diversionary Programs Available for Serving Alcohol to Minors in New Jersey
Those charged with serving alcohol to a minor may be eligible for a diversionary program in New Jersey, which allows defendants to avoid a criminal hearing and conviction. Conditional dismissal is one such option in which the defendant may be required to complete a period of probation and meet other conditions, after which the charges against them will be discharged if they successfully complete the program.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney for Assistance Building a Strong Defense Against Providing Alcohol to Underage Persons in Sea Girt, NJ
Just because you are charged with providing alcohol to a minor does not mean that you will be convicted. Presenting a strong defense, which may be based on lack of intent, lack of evidence, or a legal exception like religious purposes, is key to avoiding a conviction. An experienced criminal defense lawyer at Bronzino Law Firm will identify all of your potential defenses and all of the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you. We help clients with charges for underage drinking, underage DWI, providing alcohol to minors, disorderly conduct, and many others in Sea Bright, Bay Head, Seaside Park, Belmar, Long Branch, Beachwood, Manchester, and surrounding communities. Call (732) 812-3102 to set up an initial consultation with our defense lawyers.