Guarding Against The Impact Of MIP Charges
As local trial attorneys practicing in the area of criminal defense, we know that each year we have thousands of vacationers who flock to the beautiful white sand beaches of Santa Rosa Beach, Destin and other beach towns.
During spring break, holidays and summers, officers patrol the area beaches looking for young people in possession of beer cans, bottles or even plastic cups. They will watch and then approach quickly, hoping to catch as many as possible so they can give them all criminal citations, notices to appear in court or even make an occasional arrest. There are two criminal citations they issue. One is minor in possession and the other is minor in possession under age 21, meaning the individual is over 18.
If you or your children have endured this experience, you are not alone. Each year during spring break, literally hundreds of high school and college-aged individuals are charged with the misdemeanor offense of possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years old, also known as minor in possession of alcohol (MIP), in Santa Rosa Beach and Destin.
Minor In Possession Of Alcohol Is A Criminal Offense In Florida
It is a crime for anyone under 21 years old to possess any form of alcoholic beverage. This is not an infraction or ticket with a fine. If you sign the back of the criminal citation and send it with payment to the court, the judge will treat it as a written plea of guilty (or no contest) and the misdemeanor will be on your criminal record.
Since a minor in possession charge is normally a second-degree misdemeanor, with the penalty being up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, the plea may look like a relatively good deal — just pay the money and sign the form and it is all over with. However, it would be a mistake to sign that paper without consulting with a local criminal defense attorney first to discuss other options that may lead to a much better result, even possibly a dismissal of the charges followed by a criminal record expungement/sealing.
If you decide to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you or a loved one charged with minor in possession, there are other advantages to consider as well:
- Under normal circumstances, you will not be required to return to Florida to appear in court. Your attorney can file a waiver of appearance and attend these court dates on your behalf. Everything else can be handled through electronic mail, fax and U.S. mail.
- If the case ends in a dismissal, your attorney can discuss the potential for criminal record expungement/sealing, which can remove the criminal citation or arrest from the public record.
Contact Us To Avoid A Criminal Conviction
If you feel that getting the best possible result for you or your son or daughter is important, please do not hesitate to call 850-502-2165 or contact our attorneys by email for a free and confidential, consultation if he or she was cited or arrested for underage drinking.