My firm represents a number of clients charged with underage possession of alcohol in Ocean Township Municipal Court (Monmouth University students), Belmar Municipal Court, Seaside Heights Municipal Court, and Manasquan Municipal Court. These charges can have a significant impact on a young person's future because, if convicted of a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, this is a disorderly persons offense which leads to a permanent criminal charge on your record. This type of offense will show up on background checks for future educational and employment opportunities.
N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 is the criminal statute which governs underage possession of alcohol and provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:33-15. Possession, consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under legal age; penalty
a. Any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly persons offense, and shall be fined not less than $ 500.00.
b. Whenever this offense is committed in a motor vehicle, the court shall, in addition to the sentence authorized for the offense, suspend or postpone for six months the driving privilege of the defendant.
A seasoned criminal defense attorney can typically negotiate a downgrade or plea bargain of this charge which results in a fine and no criminal record. This is known as a violation of a municipal ordinance. This avoids a permanent criminal charge on your record and protects your future.