Purchasing and consuming alcohol is against the law for those who are under the age of 21 in Massachusetts. If a minor is caught drinking–something that’s common on college campuses–they may face charges for a “minor in possession of alcohol.” Under Massachusetts law, found in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138, Section 34C, anyone under 21 who knowingly transports, carries on their person, or possesses an alcoholic beverage can face a charge for a minor in possession (colloquially known as an MIP). This means that a minor can be charged with an MIP without even consuming the alcohol they hold in their possession.
What Are the Penalties for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Massachusetts?
As found in the same section of code cited above, a first-offense MIP can result in a fine of up to $50; a second-offense MIP will result in a fine of up to $150. The law also states that a police officer can arrest any person who violates the law without a warrant, and that a violation of the law will be reported to the registrar of motor vehicles. As such, a person who is convicted of the crime will also have their license suspended for 90 days.
Note that procuring alcohol for a minor is also a serious offense that can result in charges.
Steps to Take Immediately After Being Charged with an MIP
If you are arrested or charged with the crime of being in possession of alcohol as a minor, your future may be on the line. While an MIP is a relatively minor offense, it can show up on your record and hamper your ability to secure certain opportunities in the future. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to improve your chances of having the charge dismissed or the effects minimalized. These include–
- Remain silent. At the time that you are approached by the police–and potentially arrested–make sure you exercise your right to remain silent. While you should provide the officer with your name, you have no obligation to say anything incriminating about the offense, nor should you.
- Request a lawyer. If you are arrested, requesting a lawyer should absolutely be the first thing that you do. Even if you are not arrested, though, you’ll still want to find an attorney as soon as charges are brought against you. A good lawyer can help you to fight against a minor in possession charge. Your attorney will also help you to build your defense. Potential defenses include a lack of alcohol in the container, holding of alcohol by error or coercion, and more.
- Follow the law. As you are waiting for your case to unfold, following the law and staying on your best behavior will be critical. If you get in additional trouble with the law, you can be sure that a judge will not look favorably on your case.
Call Our Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Paul R. Moraski, our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer knows that there’s a lot on the line when you’re facing charges for minor in possession of alcohol. For the aggressive legal support you need and the help of an advocate you can trust, please call our law firm directly or send us a message online at your convenience. You can reach us at (978) 397-0011.