Tumwater Minor In Possession Criminal Defense
As a parent, you have hopes and dreams for your child. Unfortunately, far too many parents know how easily these dreams can be derailed. Finding out that your child has been arrested launches a stream of conflicting emotions: anger, shame, disappointment, and fear are all common responses to discovering that your child has been accused of committing a criminal offense.
Under Washington State law, it’s illegal for anyone under twenty-one to possess alcohol. Under the minor in possession (MIP) statute, your child can be prosecuted for simply possessing alcohol, even when it hasn’t been opened. That’s because a MIP citation doesn’t require proof of consumption; it only requires proof of possession. Whether your child is holding a can of beer, a glass of wine, or a bottle of liquor, they can be charged with MIP.
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.
You probably have dozens of questions, such as
- Will my child have to appear in court for minor in possession charges?
- Will this charge be on my child’s permanent record?
- How long does it take to resolve a juvenile court case in Tumwater?
- Do Minor in Possession charges pertain to alcohol and drugs?
The information on this website seeks to educate you not just on what you’re facing with MIP charges, but also on how to navigate the juvenile court system. If you wish to speak to a law professional about your specific juvenile case, please contact our team of Thurston County juvenile defense attorneys today. We offer a no-cost initial case consultation to every potential client.What Does it Mean to Get Charged With MIP?
It's common knowledge that the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 and that all states make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone underage. However, state prohibitions against underage drinking extend further than merely the sale of alcohol.
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. This subsection (2)(b) does not apply if the person is in the presence of a parent or guardian or has consumed or is consuming liquor under circumstances described in subsection (4), (5), or (7) of this section.”
This means that, under Washington 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 the beer.
While that part of the law is fairly common in all 50 states, Washington has some of the most strict drinking laws in the country. That means that your child may also be lawfully arrested if they appear to exhibit the effects of having been drinking alcohol.
One misstep can impact your child’s permanent record. Having an attorney on your side can make a difference and change the outcome of your case.Common MIP Penalties in Thurston County
Penalties for juvenile crimes can range in severity from probation and community service to confinement in a juvenile detention center or incarceration in an adult facility.
A violation of Washington's MIP law is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to 364 days in jail, or both. These, of course, are the maximum punishments for gross misdemeanors. Before you panic, you should know that it is very rare for a juvenile offender, especially if this is their first offense, to receive maximum punishments if they are convicted.
Other common punishments for conviction of a MIP charge in Thurston County include-
- A chemical dependency evaluation
- Enrollment in drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Community Service
- Loss of drivers license
It is worth noting that minors between 18 and 20 who are convicted of a violation may face an additional minimum fine of $250, at least 25 hours of community restitution, or both.
All juvenile criminal court cases that occur in Tumwater or the surrounding area are adjudicated at the Thurston County Superior Court, which is located in Olympia. Juvenile courts oversee the legal matters pertaining to children and youth under the age of 18. While the juvenile court system intends to rule in the best interest of the child, the decision may be complicated by a number of factors. In criminal matters, prosecutors and judges may determine that taking a firm stand against juvenile crime outweighs the potential of the individual child.
MIP convictions might negatively impact other aspects of your child’s life, such as applications, scholarships, financial aid, employment, extra-curricular activities, campus housing, and more. Many colleges and other schools have their own administrative rules for alcohol violations on top of whatever punishments a criminal conviction might cause.
If your child is facing prosecution for a juvenile crime, it is important that he or she is represented by a Thurston County MIP defense lawyer who is experienced in the juvenile courts and who is truly committed to your child’s best interests. Contact our firm today for a no-cost case consultation.Defensive Strategies for Challenging a MIP Charge in Tumwater
There are many possible defenses to a minor in possession charge that can help your child avoid conviction, penalties, and a criminal record.
Under the Revised Code of Washington’s state statutes, there are 3 exceptions where people under 21 may possess and/or consume alcohol and not be convicted of MIP:
- Possession or consumption for an established religious purpose. Such as during Sunday mass at church, or during the Passover seder.
- Possession or consumption with a doctor’s prescription (as with controlled substances).
- If a juvenile has been admitted to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, it is unlawful for that juvenile to be charged for a crime because without seeking medical intervention, they would not have otherwise been caught doing something illegal.
Although the use of these statutory exceptions is rare, an experienced Thurston County juvenile defense attorney can craft other successful defenses using the specific details of your case. A qualified minor in possession lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent your child in court. Take the first step now and contact a Tumwater MIP attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.How a Tumwater Juvenile Defense Lawyer Can Help You
You should always take minor in possession charges seriously in Thurston County. Our team of Tumwater juvenile defense attorneys is ready to defend your child’s case today.
With more than 50 combined years of experience in helping defend criminal cases in Washington State, we have the experience your child needs to thoroughly investigate the charges against them. Our lawyers are established, well-respected members of the Washington State legal community. We pride ourselves on offering dedicated service to each client, and we understand how much is at stake for your future. We will not back down against aggressive prosecutors.