The laws of every state in the union make it clear that the legal age for consuming alcohol legally is twenty-one (21). If you are caught drinking below this age, you are subject to either a citation (like a ticket), or possibly arrest. But just because an individual is cited for underage drinking, it does not mean that their life is irrevocably altered. An experienced attorney might be able to get the charge reduced (or, depending on the facts of the case, get the case dismissed).
So let's say you have a 17 year old son or daughter who attends the festivities of Mardi Gras in the Soulard area of St. Louis in February. While there, they drink a beer from a plastic cup that was handed to them by someone. The next thing you know, out of the blue, a plain-clothes cop comes up to your son or daughter and asks to see their ID. The cop then issues a citation on the spot for Minor in Possession and Drinking Underage.
The citation itself will look like any old ticket. Much your common speeding ticket, it will be yellowish-orange in color, and rectangular in shape. It will provide the citing officer's name and badge number, the type of violation committed, and court date information. At this point, you have two option: 1) you can simply pay the fine listed on the court date, or by one of the various ways listed on the back of the ticket (like paying online or mail); or 2) you can hire an attorney to negotiate something with the prosecutor.
The first option is pretty straightforward. You pay the fine, and you are done. But the consequences of doing so involve this particular charge staying on your child's record (unless you move to have his/her record expunged at a later time). This could potentially have an effect on him/her getting their first job, entry into an institution of higher learning, or any number of things.
The second option, hiring an attorney, is probably something you would want to look into. Retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can result in the charges be lowered to something less severe (like littering, for example). This type of charge does not stay permanently on someone's record, so it does not have the same damaging affect. The affordable St. Louis criminal defense attorneys at Brinkman & Alter, LLC have been assisting people (and their children) with criminal defense legal services for years. Our goal is to make sure you understand what your rights are, how your various options play out, and get put you in the best position possible to move forward with life.