What Is the Fine for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
In New Mexico, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. Individuals under the age of 21 cannot purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Likewise, it is illegal to supply alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age.
The punishment for supplying alcohol to a minor will depend on the age of the minor and the amount of alcohol supplied. Furthermore, if the minor suffers from any injuries or causes harm to another person after being supplied alcohol, the punishment will be more severe.
What Is Supplying?
Every state makes it illegal to supply alcohol to a minor under the legal drinking age. Supplying includes purchasing it for the minor, supplying alcohol in the privacy of a home, or serving alcohol to a minor at a restaurant or bar establishment.
Supplying to a minor does not require intent. The law assumes that an adult would recognize that they are serving alcohol to a minor or that the minor is being supplied alcohol illegally.
What Is the Penalty for Supplying Alcohol to a Minor?
The penalties for supplying alcohol to a minor depends on the situation. As already stated, specific outcomes after supplying alcohol to the minor can affect the penalty. Some common penalties for supplying to a minor include:
- Jail: A jail sentence can apply to cases where a person supplies alcohol to a minor. The amount of time the defendant would spend in jail depends on numerous factors. A defendant could serve up to 2 months or even up to one year, depending on circumstances. Supplying alcohol to a minor without any accidents or injuries typically see very few days in jail, if any.
- Fines: Just like jail sentences, a defendant will most likely experience court fines as part of their punishment. Fines vary depending on the severity of the case, and the fine amounts are left to the judge’s discretion. The law will give a judge a range of fines that he or she may apply to that case. Even a misdemeanor conviction for furnishing alcohol to someone underage can have a fine as high as $5,000. Typically, defendants pay around $500 for these offenses.
- Court Costs: It is not just jail time and court fines that a defendant needs to worry about. In addition to fines and jail time, a defendant will have court fees. Court fees include everything from filing paperwork to special fees dictated by that court and are the defendant’s responsibility.
- Probation: The most likely punishment for supplying alcohol to a minor is probation. Instead of serving jail time, a judge is more likely to sentence a probationary period. Probation can last for a few months or as long as one year. While you may not be in jail, you have specific instructions that you must follow during your probationary period. If you fail to follow these instructions or you violate the terms of your probation, you may serve the rest of your probation time in county jail. Some examples of probation terms can include reporting to your probation officer, maintaining continuous employment, and avoiding alcohol during your probation.
- Criminal Record: One punishment that defendants tend to forget about is the long-term consequences if convicted of a crime. Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a misdemeanor offense in New Mexico. A misdemeanor still shows up on a criminal background check. That means when you apply for a job, special housing programs, government funding programs, or even a residential lease, your criminal record may determine your eligibility. Some forms of employment will not accept applicants with any criminal history. Depending on your line of work, you may no longer be able to work at the same place of employment, which will affect you financially. Furthermore, you will have the long-term stigma of being a criminal offender.
Additional Penalties When Injuries or Deaths Occur
Penalties when a death or injury occur after furnishing alcohol to a minor can be much more severe. For example, you supplied alcohol to a minor who then caused an accident while intoxicated. Not only will you face criminal charges for supplying the minor with alcohol who then caused an accident, but you could also face a civil lawsuit for any compensation requested by the victims of that accident.
Furthermore, if the minor were to become injured or die after consuming the alcohol you supplied, you risk criminal charges for his or her death and possibly a civil suit from that minor’s parents.
As you can see, furnishing alcohol to a minor can be a life-altering event.
Arrested for Supplying to a Minor? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
You might think that supplying alcohol to someone who is underage is not a big deal. However, when you look at the long term and short-term consequences of this act, you can see why it is critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney. Not only are you risking jail time, but you may face numerous fines and other long-term penalties that can impact you and your loved ones years after the fact.
The best thing you can do is contact a criminal defense attorney the moment you are arrested or under suspicion for supplying alcohol to a minor. The sooner a defense attorney gets involved, the better your chances are for a favorable outcome. If it is your first offense, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser charge that carries fewer penalties.
If you have been arrested or questioned regarding supplying alcohol to a minor, contact a defense attorney immediately. You have the right to remain silent and consult with an attorney before talking to law enforcement. Exercise that right and contact an attorney at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today. Our team will aggressively defend your rights and work hard to find a favorable solution in your criminal case.
Schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with our team by calling our office directly. You can also ask us further questions about our defense services by completing an on-line contact form.