The Right Criminal Defense Attorney Can Make All The Difference In Alcohol Cases
If you are currently navigating the legal maze that comes with alcohol offense charges such as furnishing alcohol to a minor, you're likely feeling overwhelmed and scared. At Cofer & Connelly, PLLC, we understand that your rights and future are hanging in the balance. Our criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience in cases like yours, and we have a proven track record of success. You don't have to navigate this difficult time alone; let us help you fight for your rights. Contact us today by calling (512) 991-0576 or schedule a consultation online to explore your options further.
If you find yourself entangled in the legal implications of purchasing alcohol for a minor or furnishing alcohol to a minor in the state of Texas, understanding the laws surrounding this kind of criminal charge is crucial. Texas has a defined set of laws that explain what it means to provide alcohol to a minor and what consequences come with it.
The Law On Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor: Section 106.06
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 106.06 specifically discusses the legality of purchasing alcohol for or furnishing alcohol to a minor. According to the law, this act is usually considered an offense, subject to some exceptions.
What Constitutes An Offense?
The law states that an individual commits an offense if they purchase an alcoholic beverage for, or give or make an alcoholic beverage available to, a minor with criminal negligence. So, if you knowingly or negligently provide a minor with alcohol, you're committing a crime.
Exceptions To The Rule
However, there are some exceptions to this law. A person can legally furnish alcohol to a minor if:
- The person doing so is in the visible presence of the minor's adult parent or guardian when the minor consumes (or otherwise possesses) the alcohol.
- The person is lawfully providing alcohol to the minor under Section 106.16, which pertains to specific religious, medical, or state-employed educational institutions.
Penalties: Class A Misdemeanor And More
Committing this offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. But that's not all. If you're placed under community supervision, the judge may mandate additional requirements.
- The judge can require you to perform community service for a period ranging between 20 to 40 hours.
- You may also have to attend an alcohol awareness program that has been approved under Section 106.115 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code.
- Your driver's license or permit can be suspended, or if you don’t possess one, the issuance of a new license or permit can be denied for up to 180 days.
Any community service ordered must be related to alcohol misuse education or prevention if such programs are available in your community. If not, the court will order a community service that it considers appropriate for rehabilitative purposes.
Specific Defenses To Charges Of Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor In Texas
The Parental Exception
According to the statute, a person may furnish alcohol to a minor if they are the minor's adult parent or guardian and they are visibly present when the minor consumes (or otherwise possesses) the alcoholic beverage. If you fit into one of these categories, this provision may serve as a defense to the charge. But remember, you must be "visibly present" during the minor's possession or consumption for this exception to apply.
Lawful Provision Under Section 106.16
The law makes another exception for people providing alcohol to a minor under Section 106.16. This exception broadly pertains to specific situations like religious ceremonies or educational programs where the provision of alcohol to a minor is legally permitted. If you can show that you were providing the alcohol to a minor under such legally sanctioned circumstances, this may serve as a defense.
Lack Of Criminal Negligence
The statute specifies that a person commits an offense if they act with "criminal negligence" when furnishing alcohol to a minor. Therefore, one defense could be proving that you didn't act with criminal negligence. However, establishing what constitutes criminal negligence may be complicated and often requires legal experience.
While not explicitly stated in Section 106.06, a possible defense could be that you genuinely believed the minor to be of legal drinking age and took reasonable steps to verify the minor's age, like checking identification. However, "I thought they were 21" is usually not a strong defense unless backed up with evidence of due diligence on your part.
No Actual Furnishing
Another potential defense is to prove that you did not actually furnish the alcohol to the minor. For instance, if you purchased alcohol but never actually gave it to a minor, this could be a defense. However, the law also states that making alcohol "available" to a minor constitutes an offense, so this defense may be more difficult to argue successfully.
Frequently Asked Questions About Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor In Texas
What Is Considered "Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor"?
According to Section 106.06, an individual is considered to be furnishing alcohol to a minor if they purchase an alcoholic beverage for a minor or give or make an alcoholic beverage available to a minor with criminal negligence.
What Are The Penalties For Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor?
If convicted, you're facing a Class A misdemeanor. Additional penalties may include 20 to 40 hours of community service and mandatory attendance at an alcohol awareness program. Moreover, your driver’s license or permit may be suspended, or if you don't have one, the issuance of a new license or permit can be denied for up to 180 days.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Yes, there are two primary exceptions:
- If you're the minor's adult parent or guardian and are visibly present when the minor consumes the alcohol.
- If you’re legally providing alcohol under Section 106.16, which typically relates to religious ceremonies or educational programs.
Can I Furnish Alcohol To My Own Child?
Yes, the statute allows a parent to furnish alcohol to their minor child as long as the parent is visibly present when the minor consumes (or otherwise possesses) the alcoholic beverage.
What Does "Criminal Negligence" Mean?
"Criminal negligence" implies that you should have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk and disregarded it. This means that if you did not know the person was a minor, but the circumstances suggest that you should have known, you could be found to have acted with criminal negligence.
Is Checking ID A Valid Defense?
While not explicitly stated in the law, showing that you took reasonable steps to verify the minor's age by checking their ID could serve as a possible defense. However, this is usually a weak defense unless you can present compelling evidence of due diligence.
Can I Get My Charges Dropped Or Reduced?
Possibly, but it depends on the specifics of your case. Legal defenses exist, such as proving you didn't act with criminal negligence or that you fall under one of the exceptions. Consult a criminal defense attorney for guidance tailored to your situation.
Legal Guidance From Alcohol Offense Lawyers Is Key
Understanding Section 106.06 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is vital if you're facing charges related to furnishing alcohol to a minor. Since the law is complex and the penalties are severe, consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial. Always seek legal guidance to determine the strongest course of action for your specific circumstances.
Know The Law And Stay Informed With The Help Of A Criminal Defense Attorney
Purchasing or furnishing alcohol for a minor in Texas isn’t something to be taken lightly. The law is quite clear on the legal ramifications, including the potential for a Class A misdemeanor charge and other additional penalties such as community service and suspension of driving privileges.
Understanding Texas laws on the sale of alcohol to minors and the purchase of alcohol for minors can help you navigate the complexities should you find yourself facing such charges. Knowledge is your first line of defense, so make sure to stay informed and consult with criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC if you find yourself in a questionable situation and accused of an alcohol related offense. Call (512) 991-0576 or consult with us online for immediate guidance.