Many people think that underage drinking is no big deal. All too often, I encounter situations where parents provide their child with alcohol and even encourage them to drink. Sometimes people need to be reminded of the obvious— it is illegal for anyone under 21 to consume or possess alcohol. New Jersey takes underage drinking very seriously. It is not only illegal for minors to drink, but it is also illegal to assist them. It is against the law to supply alcohol to minors. Many parents know this, but still allow their underage children and their friends to drink in their home.
Parents that host parties or allow their children to have parties risk harsh penalties.
Charges for Providing Alcohol to Minors
Under N.J.S. 2C:33-17, it is a disorderly persons offense to:
- Purposely offer or serve alcohol to a minor or encourage them to drink.
- Make your property available for the purpose that alcoholic beverages will be available or consumed by minors. This includes property you own, rent, or manage. You are also responsible if you leave the property in the care of another person with the intent that they make it available to underage people to drink alcohol.
Note: a person does not have to be 21 to be convicted under this statute
Supplying alcohol to minors carries serious penalties. If you are found guilty of providing alcohol to minors or allowing alcohol to be consumed on your property, you could face up to 6 months in jail along with a $1,000 fine.
You will also have a permanent criminal charge placed on your record, which can only be expunged after five years and even then only if there are no other criminal convictions prior to or subsequent to this charge.
In addition, a civil claim can hold you financially responsible for any injuries that occurred as a result of the drinking. Take this scenario for example: Your 16-year-old son or daughter has a party while you are out. One of their friends that is attending the party leaves drunk, falls down a flight of stairs and winds up breaking their arm. Even though the accident didn’t occur on your property, you are still held responsible since the drinking did.
If you have been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor, you should seek the guidance of an experienced attorney immediately. The Law Offices of Leon Matchin, LLC has been providing quality legal services throughout New Jersey for more than ten years; with my counsel, the charges you are facing may be dismissed or downgraded. Call today for a free consultation to review your options and work to protect your rights and freedom: 732-662-7658.