Any of the top Darien, New Canaan or Greenwich Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys will tell you that underage drinking arrests and infraction summonses are on the rise.
Especially in small Connecticut towns like Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Greenwich Connecticut where underage drinking parties continue to be a thorn in the sides of police and prosecutors. And in spite of their enforcement campaigns to deter underage drinking, Connecticut police still can’t get it right…
Rather than making police party busts a teaching moment for teenagers arrested or cited in Darien or New Canaan Connecticut for CGS 30-89 Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, they instead haul them into court and shame them in the local Darien and New Canaan online news websites like the Patch, New Canaan Advertiser, New Canaan News Online, and Darien Times.
Even worse, just pleading guilty by mail in Connecticut to a CGS 30-89 Minor in Possession of Alcohol ticket can tarnish your teenager’s permanent record, creating a red flag and conviction for “Possession” on all of your Connecticut teenager’s employment background checks for summer internships and jobs after all that hard work in college and grad school.
Thankfully, Connecticut lawmakers are forward-thinking and have recently passed a law that might just get your Possession of Alcohol by a Minor charge dismissed, erased and expunged. The trick is getting a deal in the Stamford or Norwalk Superior Courts that allow you to take full advantage of this law.
Top Connecticut criminal lawyers are seeing more and more “Social Hosting” arrests in Darien, New Canaan and Greenwich Connecticut under CGS 30-89a, particularly when they are piled on to Minor in Possession of Alcohol tickets.
Here’s the usual scenario: parents will go out to dinner, or go out of town for a night, while leaving their high school student home alone. The teenager will invite a few friends over (with no intent to drink alcohol), who then quickly spread the word on social media that there’s a get-together or party in Darien or New Canaan.
Next thing they know, there are 50 kids partying inside your home—without your knowledge or permission—who bring alcohol and marijuana to your house, and there’s little your teenager can do to stop the party.
Even the act of borrowing someone’s ID to purchase alcohol is illegal. It’s considered the crime of “Misuse of an Operator’s License” under CGS 14-147 and can result in a 150 day driver’s license suspension, monetary fine, and up to 30 days in prison. Surprisingly enough, your child doesn’t even need to be caught drinking to be arrested for this crime. And it doesn’t matter if the alcohol is for someone 21 and over—if you misrepresent your age to buy it and have another person’s ID in your possession, then you can get arrested under CGS 14-147. Possession of a Fake ID is an even more serious crime in Connecticut—it’s a Class D felony and usually charged as Forgery in the Second Degree.
So who calls the police on your Darien, New Canaan or Greenwich teenager?
Usually it’s a neighbor, taxi cab or Uber driver, or disgruntled kid who didn’t get invited to the party. The cops come, enter your home (they usually don’t need permission to enter your home when there are reports of underage drinking), and your teenager is charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol under CGS 30-89, or worse, your child is arrested in Darien, Wilton or New Canaan Connecticut for the misdemeanor of Social Hosting / Failure to Halt Possession of Alcohol under CGS 30-89a(a).
What’s alarming to the best Greenwich & Darien Connecticut criminal lawyers is that parents are getting arrested in Connecticut for “Permitting Minors to Illegally Possess Alcohol” – even when the parents are out of town at the time of the party and completely unaware! Under Connecticut law, CGS 30-89a(a), Permitting Minors to Illegally Possess Alcohol is a Class A Misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to one year in jail. You can be arrested for permitting a minor to illegally possess alcohol in your home if you “fail to halt the possession of alcohol” as well. This means that if you go out of town, or even out for the evening, and leave your child home with a fully stocked bar, you can be accused of failing to halt the possession of alcohol by minors. Your minor child can also be arrested in Connecticut for this crime if they provide alcohol to other underage drinkers, or even just do nothing to stop underage drinking in their home.
Any underage drinking arrest in Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan Connecticut – whether for hosting an underage drinking party or misusing a driver’s license to purchase alcohol – will end in multiple trips to criminal court for your minor (and sometimes even school discipline or expulsion). While it may feel like your child’s future and academic career is in jeopardy, Connecticut lawmakers have recently made a push to use these underage drinking arrests as a learning experience to teach minors about the consequences of underage drinking. As of October 1, 2016, top Connecticut criminal defense attorneys have seen courts and prosecutors become more receptive to working with lawyers and minors to get these charges dismissed quickly to ultimately save your minor from a permanent criminal record.
Thankfully, Connecticut lawmakers have created a new diversionary program designed for teenagers who have been arrested in Connecticut for hosting underage drinking parties or misusing a driver’s license to purchase alcohol.
This program is designed to educate minors on the dangers of underage drinking, by presenting them with testimony from victims whose lives have been impacted by underage drinking, drunk driving, and even distracted driving. Getting into this program isn’t always a sure thing though – sometimes prosecutors are hesitant to offer minors a second chance, depending on your minor’s specific charges, case facts, and especially their attitude with police that’s indicated in the police report. By painting your minor in the most favorable light possible, top New Canaan, Darien and Wilton Connecticut attorneys are sometimes able to persuade the court to give your teenager a second chance by allowing them to participate in an educational forum and have their case and charges dismissed by the court.
The team of criminal attorneys at Mark Sherman Law regularly represent teenagers charged with Minor in Possession / Social Hosting in Greenwich, New Canaan, Wilton, Darien and Stamford Connecticut. While your child’s underage drinking arrest may seem like a harmless mistake, it’s important to recognize the lasting impact any arrest can have on your child’s future and permanent record. So call the firm today and check out our certified client reviews on Avvo.com to learn more about our firm. You can call us at any time to discuss your child’s case at (203) 358-4700.