Sumner Minor in Possession

Selecting the Right Sumner Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Child

As a parent, you do your best to go out into the world and make good choices. But sometimes, your child makes mistakes. If that happens, you want to make sure that they get the help that they need. You want to make sure that one mistake does not haunt them for the rest of their lives.

If you’re reading this webpage, it’s likely that your child has been charged with a crime in Pierce County. The most common juvenile offense charged in Sumner is called Minor in Possession (MIP).

If your child is facing an MIP charge in Sumner, you probably have many questions running through your mind, such as

  • How is juvenile court different from criminal court in Pierce County?
  • What is the law concerning a minor in possession of alcohol in Washington State?
  • Do I need to hire a criminal defense attorney to fight MIP charges in Sumner?
  • What kind of penalties does my child face if found guilty of an MIP charge in Pierce County?

This website was designed to provide information about MIP laws in Washington. Please read over this information to learn more about the charge your child faces. If you still have any questions regarding the law or wish to speak to a qualified legal professional about the specifics of your case, we urge you to contact us today. Our Sumner criminal defense attorneys offer a free case consultation for every new client.

Minor in Possession Laws Explained by a Pierce County Juvenile Defense Attorney

Minors under age 21 cannot possess or consume any alcohol in the state of Washington.

That being said, you, as a parent, are aware that your child will probably come in contact with alcohol sometime before they turn 21. You may even allow your child to try a drink just to satisfy their curiosity. According to Washington state law, if your child is drinking or appears to be intoxicated while in public they can still face the consequences of underage drinking, also known as Minor in Possession.

From Washington state statute RCW 66.44.270

“(2)(a) It is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire any liquor.

(b) 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.”

The good news is that this state statute also establishes exceptions to the law, which an experienced Sumner juvenile defense attorney can use to build your case around.

Some of the exceptions laid out in the state law include

  1. The accused minor was under the supervision of a parent or guardian on private property (i.e. not a public establishment)
  2. The accused minor was given alcohol for medicinal purposes by a parent, guardian, doctor, or dentist.
  3. The accused minor was given alcohol as part of a religious service
  4. The accused minor was seeking medical attention themselves or was with another minor who needed medical attention due to alcohol poisoning.

It is worth noting that the last exception was written specifically to “save lives by increasing timely medical attention to alcohol poisoning victims through the establishment of limited immunity from prosecution for people under the age of twenty-one years who seek medical assistance in alcohol poisoning situations. Dozens of alcohol poisonings occur each year in Washington state. Many of these incidents occur because people delay or forgo seeking medical assistance for fear of arrest or police involvement, which researchers continually identify as a significant barrier to the ideal response of calling 911.”

These are only a few defense strategies our Sumner juvenile defense attorneys have used. To craft a unique defense for your minor’s case, we need to hear your story- every fact, every detail, any element of your child’s case that could cast reasonable doubt on their guilt. To protect your child’s future, we urge you to reach out to us today for a case consultation with one of our knowledgeable legal professionals.

Penalties for a Minor in Possession Charge in Pierce County

The juvenile justice system in Washington differs from the adult justice system in many respects, including the penalties for various violations.

The Juvenile court system is aimed at helping kids rehabilitate and can be more lenient than the adult court system. Certain options may be available to them because they are under the age of 18. This does not mean that juvenile crime shouldn’t be taken seriously however, there are still penalties if your child has been charged with a juvenile offense.

A violation of Washington's minor in possession law is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to 364 days in jail or a detention center, or both. These, of course, are the maximum punishments for gross misdemeanors. In general, it is very rare that a juvenile offender, especially if this is their first offense, will receive maximum punishments if convicted.

Other common punishments for conviction of an MIP in Pierce County include-

  • A chemical dependency evaluation
  • Enrollment in drug or alcohol treatment programs
  • Community Service
  • Parole
  • Probation
  • Loss of drivers license

If your child has been charged with an MIP in Sumner, they will have to appear in court. Unlike adult criminal courts, which have various branches depending upon the severity and location of the crime, all juvenile offenders have to appear in one specific location, known as juvenile Court. The Pierce County Superior Court building is home to juvenile court and is located in downtown Tacoma.

How a Sumner Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Your Minor

A run-in with the law can be frightening and overwhelming, not just for your child but also for you. This may be your family’s first contact with the justice system. Such an issue can leave you feeling confused and unsure of how to best help your child. Both you and your child will have many questions and anxieties about what lies ahead.

You need an attorney who is responsive, knowledgeable about juvenile court, and can be both aggressive and compassionate. A criminal conviction can have lifelong implications such as difficulty in applying for college, obtaining a job, and securing a place to live in the future. Contact our Sumner juvenile defense attorneys today. During your free case consultation, we can explore the options available to you and your child and begin to formulate the best defensive strategy for your case.

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