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Bonney Lake Minor in Possession Defense Attorney

Alcohol is one of the most abused substances among minors all over the US. Almost everyone has an underage drinking story from their youth. To many parents and teenagers, a minor in possession (MIP) charge can seem, well, minor.

What most people don’t realize is that a MIP conviction can have serious, long-lasting repercussions. Criminal records can negatively affect your child’s chances with colleges, financial aid providers, and employers at a critical time in their life.

Whether you’re a minor or the parent of one arrested for underage drinking, you need a reliable and experienced Bonney Lake juvenile defense attorney.

Your child’s legal battle may be the result of a thoughtless, impulsive gesture; many parents have given their children alcohol with no repercussions. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your child’s charge, it is imperative that you avail yourself of experienced legal counsel at the earliest opportunity.

In the section below, our Pierce County juvenile defense attorneys answer some common questions regarding MIP laws in Washington State. With over 50 combined years of experience, our team of legal professionals has handled many MIP charges in Bonney Lake and throughout Pierce County.

If you have questions regarding the specifics of your child’s MIP case or want a more in-depth explanation on any of the questions answered below, please contact our Pierce County criminal defense attorneys today. We offer a free case consultation to all prospective clients so that we can answer any questions you may have, as well as start building a solid defense for your case.

Frequently Asked Questions About MIP Laws Answered by a Bonney Lake Criminal Defense Lawyer What Is a MIP Charge?

Under Washington State law, it’s illegal for anyone under twenty-one to possess alcohol. Notice that the previous sentence says “possess” and not “consume.” That means, under state law, your child can be charged as a minor in possession of alcohol if they are under the age of 21 and have an alcoholic beverage on their person or under their control. If, for example, your child had a beer can but they set it down on the ground next to them, your child is still considered to be in possession of alcohol.

Additionally, your child may be charged with a MIP simply by appearing to be intoxicated. Under the Revised Code of Washington, specifically RCW 66.44.270, “It is unlawful for a person under the age of twenty-one years to be in a public place, or to be in a motor vehicle in a public place while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor. For purposes of this subsection, exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor means that a person has the odor of liquor on his or her breath and either: (i) Is in possession of or close proximity to a container that has or recently had liquor in it; or (ii) by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise, exhibits that he or she is under the influence of liquor.”

Is a MIP Charged as a Misdemeanor or Felony?

A violation of Washington's MIP law is charged as a gross misdemeanor. Criminal charges in Pierce County are generally categorized by three tiers. A simple misdemeanor is the lowest charge, with a gross misdemeanor being the mid-tier charge, and felonies are the most severe charges in Bonney Lake.

How Is Juvenile Court Different From Adult Court?

All adult gross misdemeanor charges acquired in Bonney Lake would be adjudicated by the Pierce County District Court, however juvenile charges, such as MIP, are under the jurisdiction of the Pierce County Juvenile Court, which is located in Tacoma.

One of the biggest differences between adult and juvenile criminal court is the idea that, more often than not, the juvenile court will focus more on rehabilitation over punishment. The goal of juvenile court systems is to rehabilitate minors and serve their best interest. This means that the sentencing in juvenile cases will come in many forms, such as rehab centers and probation, rather than jail.

What Are the Possible Punishments for a MIP Conviction in Pierce County?

Up-to a $5,000 fine
Up to a year in jail
Probation
Loss of driver's license
Enrollment in a drug/alcohol treatment program
Community service

Additionally, a conviction for MIP can affect your child’s ability to procure employment, housing, and admission to college.

What Are Some Possible Defensive Strategies for a MIP Case?

Not all minor in possession charges are warranted. There are stipulations to the law that exempts minors from a misdemeanor charge, even if they are found to have consumed alcohol. State statute RCW 66.40.270 explains that

“This section does not apply to liquor given for medicinal purposes to a person under the age of twenty-one years by a parent, guardian, physician, or dentist.
(5) This section does not apply to liquor given to a person under the age of twenty-one years when such liquor is being used in connection with religious services and the amount consumed is the minimal amount necessary for the religious service.
(6) This section does not apply to liquor provided to students under twenty-one years of age in accordance with a special permit issued under RCW 66.20.010(12).
(7)(a) A person under the age of twenty-one years acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing alcohol poisoning shall not be charged or prosecuted under subsection (2)(a) of this section, if the evidence for the charge was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance.
(b) A person under the age of twenty-one years who experiences alcohol poisoning and is in need of medical assistance shall not be charged or prosecuted under subsection (2)(a) of this section, if the evidence for the charge was obtained as a result of the poisoning and need for medical assistance.”

Of course, those are just a few of the possible defensive strategies available for a MIP charge. Determining the best defensive strategy for your charge requires all of the facts pertaining to your specific case.

How a Pierce County Juvenile Defense Attorney Can Help With a MIP Charge

Every case is unique, but for our Bonney Lake criminal defense attorneys, each case has the same goal- to minimize the impact a MIP citation or arrest has on your child’s life by reducing the charges or having the charges dropped altogether.

An MIP conviction can easily cost your child a lot of opportunities, from college acceptance to scholarships and job prospects. Don’t let this happen to you or to someone you love.

Our lawyers understand the feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that you have if your child has been charged with MIP. Contact our Bonney Lake criminal defense lawyers today. We are committed to helping you navigate the legal process and will work for the best possible outcome in your child’s case so that you can put it behind you and focus on the future.

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