Furnishing alcohol to a minor in Illinois is illegal regardless of whether the child is a friend's child or your own child's friend. Many people believe that if it's in the privacy of their own homes, then there's not a problem – and though doing so in the home may not be discovered by the police and, thus, you will not find yourself in any legal trouble, it is still worth noting it is illegal. Imagine if the minor ends up operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol, you could indeed find yourself in legal trouble then.
Illinois is a zero-tolerance state, and depending on the circumstances of the minor being provided alcohol by an adult, you could face either misdemeanor or felony. Both can lead to imprisonment and fines.
If you have been arrested and charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor, contact Dolci & Weiland today. Our criminal defense team focuses a large part of its practice on DUI and alcohol-related cases. Find out how we may approach your case by reaching out to us today.
What is Illinois's Criminal Offense Known as Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Illinois statute on prohibited sales and possession, 235 ILCS 5/6-16, addresses the legal issue of furnishing alcohol to a minor. This statute prohibits anyone from selling, giving, or delivering alcohol "to any person under the age of 21 years." This includes:
- alcohol sales licensee or any officer, associate, member, representative, agent, or employee of the licensee; or
- any parent or guardian.
This crime is one of intent when it comes to any parent or guardian. He or she can be found guilty if the parent or guardian knowingly authorized or permitted consumption of alcoholic liquor by an underage guest when that guest is on the property of the parent, including the home as well as a car or boat.
Examples of Unlawfully Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor in Illinois
There are many examples where you could be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. Here are a few examples to understand the crime better:
- A bar next to a university often sells alcohol to minors.
- A waitress accepts a driver's license she knows is fake and serves alcohol to a minor.
- A parent rent a hotel room for his underage child to host a party where alcohol is served.
- There's a Christmas dinner, and alcohol is served to all the guests, including adults under the age of 21.
- You go on a day-long boat trip where beer is handed out and guests and their minor children drink it with a parent knowing but not saying no to it.
What are the Consequences in Illinois of a Conviction of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a criminal offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of the crime. The statute, however, lays out many different scenarios that carry a different classification of the charge. Some of the more common situations are listed below.
- If you are 21 years or older and knowingly give alcohol to a minor at a private residence, you can be charged with this offense as a Class A misdemeanor, which could result in up to one year in jail and up t $2,500 in fines.
- If you are 21 years or older and knowingly give alcohol to a minor at a private residence, you can be charged with this offense as a Class 4 felony if great bodily injury or death occurred. A Class 4 felony carries between one and three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
- If you serve/sell a minor alcohol, it is a Class A misdemeanor and can include up to one year in jail and a fine not less than $500. A second offense would involve a fine not less than $2,000.
- If you serve/sell a minor alcohol and great bodily injury or death occurs because of it, it is a Class 4 felony. Again, a Class 4 felony carries between one and three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Along with imprisonment and fines, there could be probation and/or community service. You also face the stigma that comes with a criminal record.
This is known as collateral consequences, which refer to things like losing your job over a conviction, finding it hard to find a new job, not being able to secure a mortgage or auto loan, or facing problems with child custody. If you are found guilty of a felony, you also risk losing your right to vote and your right to own and use a firearm. Restoring these civil rights can involve a long and difficult process.
Are There any Defenses to a Charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor in Illinois?
As in all criminal cases, you have the right to defend yourself – and you should. In allegations of furnishing alcohol to a minor, there are strategies that can be used to build a strong defense.
One viable defense is mistake of fact, where you were led to believe that the minor was legally of age to drink alcohol. In another scenario, lack of intent or knowledge can be a defense, i.e., the parent wasn't aware underage children were consuming alcohol on his property.
It is also important to be reminded that you are innocent until proven guilty. We will highlight weaknesses in any case to create that doubt. We will put pressure on the State, too, and had the judge and jury accountable to the principles of the criminal justice system.
Contact Aggressive DUI & Alcohol-Related Criminal Defense Attorneys in Chicago Metro Area Today
A charge of furnishing minors with alcohol can have a significant impact on the quality of your life if you are found guilty. Contact our office in either Cook County or DuPage County to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how all can help your case. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can begin a strong defense.