Serving the Elizabeth NJ Superior Court & All Municipal Courts in Union County

Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

Over 200 Years Combined Experience

Former County & Municipal Prosecutors

Possession of Alcohol Underage

Springfield NJ Underage Alcohol Possession Attorney

Possession and use of alcohol by those under legal drinking age has honestly been an issue confronting every generation of young adults our attorneys can recall. Whether its one of the more affluent municipalities like Westfield, Scotch Plains and Cranford or a major city like Elizabeth, underage drinking of alcohol is commonplace. Nonetheless, someone caught engaging in this conduct faces a criminal offense and the possibility of a record if they are convicted of possessing alcohol before they are twenty-one (21). It is certainly in your best interests to retain an attorney if you have been charged with underage alcohol possession since your future could be negatively effected in the event you plead or are otherwise found guilty under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15. The eight criminal lawyers that make up The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are seasoned former prosecutors and skilled defense advocates that know how to effectively navigate the court system with over 100 years in practice combined. Contact our office in Union Township now at 908-272-1700 for a free consultation with a lawyer on our team.

Charged With Possession of Alcohol in Union County New Jersey

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, “any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages who knowingly possesses without legal authority or who knowingly consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, or place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, is guilty of a disorderly person offense, and shall be fined not less than $500.”  “Public” means a place to which the public or a substantial group has access. The places considered to be “public” under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 include  highways, transport facilities, schools, sporting events, common areas of apartment houses and places of business or amusement. 

Elements of Offense. Five elements must be shown by the State in order to secure a conviction in accordance with 2C:33-15. First, it must be shown that the defendant was under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages (i.e. 21 years of age). Second, it must be shown that defendant possessed or consumed an alcoholic beverage of some kind. Third, the conduct must have occurred at school, a public place or in a motor vehicle. Fourth, if the defendant is charged with possession, the possession was without legal authority.  Possession is without legal authority in all cases except where the affirmative defense exists that the person is holding the alcohol within the scope of their employment (i.e. they work for a restaurant or hotel or distributorship) or holding the alcohol in the course of food preparation while enrolled in a culinary or hotel management school.  The firth and final element of the offense is that the possession or consumption must have been done knowingly.

Penalties for Underage Drinking. As stated in the statute, an individual faces a fine of at least $500 upon conviction. You can also be sentenced to up to six (6) months in the county jail if you are convicted of this disorderly persons offenses. In addition, if the offense of underage possession of alcohol is committed in a motor vehicle, there is a mandatory six month suspension of driving privileges. If the person is under seventeen (17), the suspension is imposed when the defendant becomes eligible to secure a license. The suspension commences on the day the sentence is imposed and runs for six months after the person reaches the age of seventeen.  In addition to the driver’s license suspension, the court may require the defendant to participate in an alcohol education or treatment program authorized by the Department of Health.

Union NJ Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer

Your future can certainly be compromised if you fail to handle your underage drinking offense properly. Here at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our attorneys have over 100 years of collective experience defending those charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol throughout Union County, including Clark, Kenilworth, Berkeley Heights, Roselle and Mountainside. A lawyer at our firm is available immediately to assist you in avoiding a conviction. Call us at 908-272-1700 for a free consultation with a highly knowledgeable attorney.