Yelm Minor In Possession Criminal Defense

It’s a pretty well-known fact that minors are quicker to act on impulse without thinking of the consequences. We all can remember a time when we did something stupid and potentially illegal just for the thrill of it. Unfortunately, some childhood indiscretions can have serious consequences.

If you are reading this website, then it’s likely that your child has been charged with a crime. In Thurston County, the most common juvenile crime perpetrated is called Minor in Possession (MIP).

You probably have dozens of questions, such as

  • What, exactly, is a MIP charge?
  • Will this charge be on my child’s permanent record?
  • How is juvenile court different from regular court?
  • 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?

In this highly emotional and confusing time, it’s important for you to understand what your child is being charged with and why.

Washington State statute RCW 66.44.270 lays out the law with regards to both the supplying of alcohol to a minor and a minor being in possession of alcohol.

There are three important sections of this statute.

  1. “(2)(a) It is unlawful for any person under the age of twenty-one years to possess, consume, or otherwise acquire any liquor. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor…”

This first section is fairly straightforward. Possessing, consuming, or otherwise acquiring any alcohol if you are under 21 is a criminal offense. A gross misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of a fine of up to $5,000, up to 364 days in jail, or both. Before you start panicking, please be aware that it is extremely rare for a judge to hand down maximum punishments for juvenile offenders, especially if this is the child’s first offense.

  1. “(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 section is particularly important because it specifies the when and the where it is illegal for a minor to appear to have been drinking. If that sentence sounds confusing, that’s because it is. This subsection of the state statute allows a law enforcement officer to detain and arrest a minor who is in public (including inside a vehicle), and has the appearance of having consumed alcohol, or is in possession or even close proximity to a container of alcohol. Enforcement of this section of the law relies entirely on the perceptions of the law enforcement officer.

  1. “(4) 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.”

This section of the statute is important because it lays out the legal instances that a minor may not be prosecuted for possessing or consuming alcohol. A skilled and experienced Yelm juvenile defense attorney can use this part of the statute to craft a defense for your child’s charge. The best way to ensure your child’s rights and best interests are protected during the criminal process is to hire an expert in juvenile crimes who has experience and practice defending minors.

How Juvenile Court Differs From Adult Court in Thurston County

Washington State created juvenile courts in 1905 under the premise most juvenile offenders have more in common with dependent and neglected children than with adult criminals. Because of this, juvenile court operates with the intention of rehabilitation rather than prosecuting them in the same manner as adults. Any minors charged with a juvenile crime in Yelm will need to appear in Juvenile Court, located in Tumwater.

Washington’s juvenile justice system has a broad array of methods and programs for addressing juvenile crime, taking into account the severity of the offense and the background of the offender. Some examples of punishments for a juvenile conviction include

  • Fines
  • Entry into a treatment program
  • Detention or incarceration
  • Community service
  • Probation

If your child’s case were to go to trial, a minor is not entitled to a jury trial in juvenile court, only to what’s called an adjudication, which is when your child’s case is decided by a judge instead of a jury.

In the past couple of years, there has been a disturbing trend in which more serious juvenile cases have been moved into the adult court system. This process has completely negated the intent of the juvenile crime law. The adult courts usually hand down harsher punishments on undeveloped minors. That’s one of the big reasons why it’s important to engage the services of a Thurston County juvenile defense attorney as soon as possible. Our Yelm juvenile defense lawyers care about each client and have a deep understanding of the system. We will work with you and your child with the goal being rehabilitation rather than punitive measures. Protecting your child’s future is our most important objective. Contact our team today for a free case consultation.

How a Yelm Juvenile Defense Lawyer Can Help You

Regardless of all the emotions you might have towards your child, the judicial system, or the arresting officer, your first steps should be to protect and preserve your child’s interests and future. They will need your support now more than ever.

It is important that you take your child's case seriously and obtain an attorney experienced at handling juvenile cases. Every case is unique and must be treated as such to achieve the best possible outcome.

Our team of Thurston County criminal defense litigators is committed to paying careful attention to the individual circumstances surrounding each person and each case. We care about the future of our youth and have extensive experience and knowledge of the many alternative options that exist within the Thurston County juvenile court system. We offer a free initial consultation on each prospective client’s case so that we can get to know you, and you can get to know our team. Contact us today so that we can begin coming up with effective defense strategies to fight your child’s charges.

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