Everyone knows that, in the United States, the legal drinking age is 21. Given that reality, purchasing, drinking or even having alcohol on your person as a minor can land you in serious trouble.
But even when you reach age 21 and decide to celebrate the occasion with your friends, you need to pay close attention to who is sharing those drinks with you. Furnishing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 is a crime and you could be held responsible for anything that minor does while intoxicated.
Even if the person you're sharing your alcohol with is your boyfriend, girlfriend, sibling, friend or classmate, if they are under 21, you are responsible for furnishing the alcohol if you get caught.
A frat that opens its doors to the whole school for parties can be held responsible for any under-21 partygoers who attend and drink there. A 21 year old who invites a few friends over for wine and dinner is responsible for any underage guests who have a glass. No matter what the scenario, an of-age adult who allows a minor to drink in his or her presence can be charged with criminal activity.
On Penn State's campus, college parties are the most popular spots for underage partiers to get alcohol. But when the campus police respond to a noise complaint or other violation and find minors drinking, these parties end fast and result in a lot of legal trouble for both hosts and guests.
The guests will likely receive a summary non-traffic citation for underage drinking, but often, the residents and hosts of the party will not receive their notice of criminal activity until later when they get a summons in the mail.
This summons will list the misdemeanor charge of Furnishing Alcohol to Minors. The accused will be required to provide fingerprints and have mugshots taken -- a process that will create a record in the Pennsylvania State police database, as well as with the FBI. The criminal record will then appear in any background check done on that person.
Charges and Penalties
Furnishing alcohol to a minor is against the law, as per 18 Pa.C.S.A 6310.1. If a person is in violation of this law, charges could be filed under the Crimes Code, as well as the Liquor Code. Even if only one person at the party or gathering is under the age of 21, the furnisher can be charged with multiple offenses.
Additionally, if the furnisher only provided alcoholic drinks to one minor at the event, if others minors were present, he or she may be charged twice for each minor there. Police can collect statements from the underage drinkers (even while they are intoxicated at the time) that may name the furnisher and use those statements as evidence in filing charges.
If the furnisher is convicted, he or she could face penalties that range from probation to minimum jail time. A conviction under the Crimes Code also sets mandatory minimum fines to be paid.
The State College criminal lawyers at Rehmeyer & Allat, Attorneys at Law represent anyone who has been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. For a free, no-strings consultation, call us today.