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Facing an underage possession of alcohol charge is a serious and stressful event that can result in lasting repercussions on your life. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we recognize the importance of having a skilled criminal defense lawyer to represent you during these critical times. Based in Texas, our alcohol offense lawyers are dedicated to fighting for your rights and providing you with the legal representation you deserve. Don't leave your future to chance; your freedom and reputation are too valuable. Contact us immediately for a consultation by calling (512) 991-0576 or visit us online to learn more about how we can assist you.
If you're a minor in the state of Texas, it's crucial to understand the laws surrounding possession of alcohol charges. Running afoul of these regulations can lead to legal complications that may have long-lasting consequences, including penalties, fines, and even a criminal record. Below, we’ll delve into the specifics of Texas laws on the possession of alcohol by a minor, particularly Section 106.05 and Section 106.071 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
What Does Section 106.05 Say?
According to the 2022 Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 106.05 states that a minor can be held accountable for wrongdoing if they have alcohol in their possession. However, there are certain exceptions where a minor may lawfully possess alcohol. These include:
- Being employed by a licensee or permittee and the possession is within the scope of their job.
- The permission of an adult parent or guardian who witnessed the conduct.
- Being under the supervision of a commissioned peace officer.
- Receiving the alcohol lawfully under Section 106.16.
Special Provisions For Emergencies And Assaults
The law provides certain defenses for minors under special conditions. For example, if a minor has called for emergency medical assistance due to a possible alcohol overdose for themselves or another person, and they meet certain conditions like staying at the scene and cooperating with medical and law enforcement personnel, the offense doesn't apply. Similarly, if a minor reports a sexual assault to certain authorities, they may raise this as a defense in a prosecution for this offense.
Consequences As Per Section 106.071
The penalties for a minor caught in possession of alcohol are detailed in Section 106.071. Initially, the offense is treated as a Class C misdemeanor. For repeat offenders, the penalties escalate and can include:
- A fine ranging from $250 to $2,000.
- A term of incarceration in jail for up to 180 days.
- Both the fine and a term of incarceration.
Moreover, minors may also be subjected to community service that is focused on alcohol misuse education and/or the prevention of this phenomenon. Finally, the law mandates that the minor's driver's license be suspended or the issuance of a new license be denied for varying periods depending on previous convictions.
Defenses For Minors Charged With Alcohol Possession In Texas
Scope Of Employment
One of the first defenses available under Section 106.05(b)(1) is that the minor was in the possession of alcohol as part of their job duties. This applies if the minor works for an entity that holds a license or permit to sell alcohol and their employment is in compliance with the Alcoholic Beverage Code.
Presence Of An Adult
Another defense, outlined in Section 106.05(b)(2), is that the minor’s conduct was witnessed by an adult who is their parent or guardian. In such situations, the law permits minors to possess alcohol.
Lawfully Provided Alcohol
If the minor has been lawfully provided alcohol under Section 106.16, then according to Section 106.05(b)(4), they are not committing an offense by possessing it. This could apply in religious ceremonies where wine is served, for example.
Medical Emergency Exception
As per Section 106.05(d), a minor can escape charges if they pursued emergency medical assistance because of a potential alcohol overdose. This protection extends to the assistance of another and to seeking treatment for oneself. Several conditions apply, such as being the first to call for assistance and remaining on the scene until medical help arrives.
Reporting A Sexual Assault
Section 106.05(e) allows for a defense when a minor reports a sexual assault either committed against them or another person. This must be reported to healthcare providers treating the alleged victim, law enforcement officers, or other professionals responsible for responding to sexual assault reports.
Frequently Asked Questions About Minor Alcohol Possession Under Texas Law
What Constitutes Minor Possession Of Alcohol In Texas?
In Texas, a minor (anyone under the age of 21) commits wrongdoing if alcohol is in their possession, except in certain specific circumstances outlined in Section 106.05 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
Can Minors Possess Alcohol At Work?
Yes, minors can possess alcohol as part of their lawful job duties, according to Section 106.05(b)(1). This applies if the minor is employed by a licensee or permittee and the employment itself is not prohibited by the Alcoholic Beverage Code.
Are There Exceptions When A Minor Can Possess Alcohol?
Yes, besides the scope of employment, other exceptions exist. For example, minors can possess alcohol if an adult parent or guardian granted them permission and was witness to the conduct. They may also possess alcohol under the immediate supervision of a law enforcement officer.
What Happens If A Minor Calls For Medical Help Due To Alcohol Poisoning?
Section 106.05(d) provides for a defense if the minor has pursued emergency medical assistance because of a potential alcohol overdose. This protection extends to the assistance of another and to seeking treatment for oneself. The minor must be the first person to make the request for medical assistance and must remain at the scene until medical help arrives.
What Are The Penalties For Minor Possession Of Alcohol?
If found guilty, a minor will face a Class C misdemeanor as per Section 106.071(b). Repeat offenses can lead to higher fines and imprisonment of up to 180 days. Additional penalties may include community service related to alcohol education or prevention, and potential suspension or denial of a driver's license.
Can The Court Suspend My Driver's License?
Yes, upon conviction, the court may compel the Department of Public Safety to withhold the minor's driving privileges or keep them from obtaining a driver’s license for a period of time.
Is Community Service Mandatory?
Community service is commonly a part of the sentence and its duration varies based on whether the minor has previous convictions. If ordered, the hours spent must focus on preventing and/or learning about alcohol misuse.
What If I Report A Sexual Assault?
Section 106.05(e) allows minors to escape charges for alcohol possession if they report a sexual assault committed against them or another person. However, a minor who commits a sexual assault that is reported cannot use this as a defense.
Can A Prior Deferred Disposition Count As A Conviction?
Yes, under Section 106.071(f), a prior order of deferred disposition for an offense under this section is considered a conviction.
Should You Consult A Minor In Possession Defense Lawyer?
If you’re a minor facing charges for possession of alcohol in Texas, consulting a criminal defense attorney is crucial. A professional can provide legal guidance tailored to your specific situation, helping you to effectively use any applicable defenses. They can guide you through your entire case.
Shield Your Future By Partnering With A Qualified Underage Drinking Attorney
When facing underage alcohol possession charges and the risk of a permanent criminal record, the stakes are incredibly high. Your future career, personal freedom, and family's well-being could be at risk. The attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are skilled practitioners in the field of criminal defense as it relates to minor in possession laws and other alcohol-related offenses. We aim to provide you with not just legal counsel, but also the emotional and strategic support you need. Secure the strongest possible outcome for your situation by entrusting us with your case. Call us now at (512) 991-0576 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.