N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 penalizes possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a person who is under the legal age. An offense under this section is a disorderly persons offense. The penalties for possession or consumption underage are serious. A conviction will appear on your criminal record. In addition to up to six months in prison, the court will assess a mandatory fine of no less than $500 if convicted. If the offense is alleged to have occurred in a motor vehicle, the court shall suspend the privileges of the defendant for six months. If the defendant does not have a license, the court will prohibit the defendant from obtaining a license for six months.
Additionally, the court could require that the defendant participate in mandatory drug and alcohol education programs, which will likely be state run. This means that you will be paying for the course and they are not cheap.
As a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, I defend individuals charged and arrested with a variety of criminal offenses. It amazes me how far state law makers have taken this offense. A conviction under this subsection will remain on the defendant’s record for five years before defendant is eligible for an expungement. This, coupled with loss of license, large fines, and possible jail, presents a whole host of problems for young people embarking on a college career and subsequent employment searches.
I am confident in all New Jersey underage possession and consumption cases that I will be able to significantly reduce my client’s exposure to the litany of punishments that could result if found guilty. These favorable results can be reached through the trial process, or by effective and organized plea negotiations. The facts of your particular case will dictate how I proceed. But the seriousness of the offense dictates that an experienced lawyer be contacted.