Why It's Important To Hire An Attorney For Under 21 Alcohol Offenses - Video

Transcript: It's important to hire a lawyer if you've been charged with an underage alcohol offense because of the numerous collateral consequences that can follow. So what's a collateral consequence? That just means the things that can happen to you outside of the court. You know, your license can be suspended depending on the violation, if it's a fake ID charge, and it's a criminal violation if you go in as a youngster and plead guilty to underage consumption, that stays on your record. Arizona has no provision to remove that totally from your record unless you get a pardon from the Governor, which I've been practicing law for 23 years, I've never seen anybody get a pardon.

So while it's a very minor charge in one sense, it can have a lot of consequences in your life going down the road. Oftentimes in those cases what we're able to do is get you an offer where the State will drop the charges as long as you've completed some alcohol classes and stay out of trouble, which is a great outcome.

But just going in, handling it on your own, bad idea. If you get convicted you're stuck with that for the rest of your life. Or if you plead guilty you're stuck with that for the rest of your life. And of course if you have questions or you need assistance, when you have a good lawyer on your side they're there to help you with all of that.

If you're the parent of a youngster who's had an underage alcohol violation, and that can be minor in possession or consumption of alcohol, that can be an underage DUI, here's what you need to understand. Number one, your child is a good person. This does not make them a bad person. This is a misdemeanor offense, it's not a felony, meaning it's a minor crime that does not cause a person to lose their right to vote, bear arms or get a passport.

But it is a criminal violation and you really want to do everything you can to allow your child to avoid getting convicted for that violation. And oftentimes we are able to get a disposition where the State will agree to drop the charges if your child completes some alcohol education classes.

It's manageable, you can deal with it, but it needs to be taken seriously and dealt with at an early stage. The longer the case goes on, the more likely it is that you're not going to be able to get a good deal. Bring your lawyer in sooner rather than later.

When I'm asked will this affect my child's educational opportunities or whether they can stay in school, usually the answer is it will not affect them. But it depends on the school. Here in Arizona if you're at ASU or U of A typically getting an underage consumption of alcohol charge, not something that's going to cause you to be removed from the school.

Now it can certainly affect, if say, you're a football player or a volleyball player. The coach may decide to bench you or kick you off the team for violating the team's code of conduct. So it can have effects like that, not likely that it would cause you to be kicked out, but it can. So again, something you need to get dealt with as soon as possible.