Warm weather will be here soon which means the annual tradition of concert season in central Indiana. High school and young college students will flock to outdoor venues in search of more than good music. Some may have an adult beverage or more and not always understand the seriousness of their actions and legal consequences.
Indiana law states that possession, consumption or transportation of an alcoholic beverage by someone younger than 21 is a criminal offense. The results may include jail time, probation, fines and other financial consequences associated with counseling and other programs. In some cases, there may be a driver’s license suspension. There may be options such as diversion or deferral programs available primarily to first time offenders which can help the accused avoid a conviction. However, this does not necessarily mean that there is no record of the criminal charge and result.
A young person handed a ticket, or summons, for underage drinking sometimes mistakenly believes that it is no big deal or similar to a traffic infraction. This is naïve. A criminal offense such as minor consumption/possession/transportation may have negative consequences on schooling, college financial aid, scholarships and future employment. The ticket or summons is tantamount to an arrest and will likely require the person appear in court at a later date or have a warrant issued for his or her arrest. A jail sentence could later follow with the likelihood of incarceration sometimes dependent upon prior contacts with the justice system including juvenile contact prior to age 18. Many young offenders are surprised to learn that his or her juvenile record could impact the outcome for a minor consumption offense between the ages of 18 and 21.
Expungement opportunities have increased in Indiana in recent years. A youthful indiscretion for underage drinking may later be ripe for an expungement petition to clear his or her record. The expungement petition can be filed sooner if the accused successfully completes a diversion or deferral program instead of suffering a conviction. However, a conviction may also be eligible for expungement at a later date. No matter the situation expungement is not automatic and must be proactively requested by the offender.
Sarkovics Law is prepared to provide you, a family member or friend legal advice in criminal law matters. Do not mistakenly believe that a charge for illegal or minor consumption, possession or transportation of alcohol is an insignificant issue without understanding your rights and potential penalties.