Dedicated Albuquerque Minor in Possession Defense Lawyers
Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting on Behalf of Minors Charges with Possession Throughout New Mexico
In New Mexico as in the rest of the country, federal and state laws prohibit a minor under the age of 21 from purchasing or being served alcoholic beverages in most situations. Going along with the prohibition of underage drinking is the prohibition against an adult over the legal drinking age to give or sell alcohol to a minor, to purchase alcohol for a minor, or to assist the minor in obtaining alcohol in any way, for example by lying out the minor’s age. Contact an experienced Albuquerque minor in possession defense lawyer if you or a family member have been accused of minor in possession charges. There are two exceptions under the law:
- A parent, legal guardian, or adult spouse of a minor serving the drink at home.
- Alcohol being used in conjunction with the practice of religious beliefs, such as in the sacrament of communion.
Minor in Possession
Regardless of the fact that virtually everyone is fully aware of the drinking age law, it is routinely ignored by many high school and college students and others under the age of full majority. However, ignoring the law is taking a risk of incurring a fine that could be as high as $1000 and having to perform thirty hours of community service for a first offense, which is a misdemeanor.
A second offense can also come with a fine of up to $1000, but community service the second time around is forty hours, and an additional penalty is a ninety-day suspension of the offender’s driver’s license. A minor who is not yet old enough to drive will have to wait an additional ninety days beyond the date he or she would ordinarily be able to qualify for a license to get one
For the third or any subsequent offense, community service time goes up to sixty hours and the suspension is for two years or until the offender’s twenty-first birthday, whichever is longer.
Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
It is illegal in New Mexico to furnish alcohol to a minor in a licensed establishment. An adult proven to have provided a minor with alcohol in violation of the law is guilty of a fourth-degree felony, faces a potential prison sentence and/or fines, and will bear the burden of being a convicted felon. If the server was lied to about the minor’s age and was reasonably led to believe that the minor was 21 or older, the adult responsible for the deception, rather than the server, could be convicted of a fourth-degree felony.
Potential Civil Liability under the Dram Shop Law
New Mexico has what is commonly referred to as a “dram shop” law. If a server in a licensed establishment served alcohol to a minor who then got behind the wheel and caused an accident that resulted in an injury or death, the injured person or survivors of the person who was killed have the right to claim compensation for their monetary and non-monetary losses against the server and the owner of the establishment. A civil action for personal injury or wrongful death is separate from any criminal charges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
I bought some alcohol for my girlfriend and I to consume. We are both minors. Can I be convicted of procuring alcohol for my girlfriend?
Yes, you can. In fact, you can face two charges – one charge for a minor in possession of alcohol (for yourself) and another charge of distributing alcohol to a minor (your girlfriend).
Can I be convicted for attempting to buy alcohol at a liquor store even if the clerk refused to sell it to me?
Yes. If you are under 21, even attempting to buy alcohol in New Mexico is a crime. It is also a crime to drink alcohol that is served to you at a party even if you did not request any alcohol and drank it only because of peer pressure (at a fraternity initiation ritual, for example).
I am a bartender. Can I be convicted for settling alcohol to a minor who presented me with a fake ID?
It depends on whether or not the court believes that the fake ID actually fooled you. If the fake iD was amateurish enough, or if the minor’s appearance was young enough, the court might not accept that you actually believed the person you served was an adult.
What other offenses can I be charged with when I buy alcohol illegally?
Depending on the circumstances you might be charged with:
- Possession of a fake ID
- DWI (the minimum BAC is only 0.02 for minors)
- Child endangerment (especially if you a driving with other minors in your car)
- Distributing alcohol to a minor
Should I plead guilty to get it over with?
No, not unless your lawyer advises you to. Even if the evidence against you is strong, you might be able to plea bargain for a lesser charge, or your attorney might be able to exclude critical evidence against you (which might result in acquittal).
What is a deferred sentence?
A deferred sentence is an arrangement in which you are put on probation subject to certain requirements (such as periodic meetings with a probation officer and abstention from alcohol, for example). If you meet these conditions for the required time, the charges against you will be dropped, allowing you to avoid a criminal record.
What do I have to do to “possess” alcohol in New Mexico?
New Mexico law applies two requirements for possession:
- You must have physical control of the alcohol (regardless of whether it is on your person); and
- You must have the knowledge or intention of possessing it.
“Willful blindness” — refusing to look inside a bag that you know probably contains alcohol, for example, is not a valid defense.
Can I get the alcohol excluded from evidence if the officer lacked a warrant to perform the search that uncovered it?
Maybe, maybe not. The officer may have been acting under an exception to the warrant requirement. Even if the search was illegal under the Fourth Amendment, you can still be convicted if there is enough other evidence against you to secure a conviction (CCTV footage, for example, or eyewitness testimony).
Our Zealous Albuquerque Minor In Possession Defense Attorneys Can Help in Underage Drinking Cases
If you’re a minor who has been charged with underage drinking or an adult who has been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor in Albuquerque or anywhere else in the state, call the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices in Albuquerque (505-200-2982) for experienced legal representation. Defenses are available, and an Albuquerque minor in possession defense attorney will use every legal means to negotiate an outcome that will keep you out of jail and cause the least amount of disruption to your life and your pocketbook.
Our experienced legal team also handles other types of cases, including: