If you are a minor – meaning if you are under the age of 21 – it is unlawful for you to possess alcohol. You cannot purchase it, receive it, transport it, or consume it.
To do so can lead to serious consequences, and we aren't talking only about potential jail time and fines, but difficulty getting school loans, winning or keeping scholarships, finding a good job, finding good housing on campus or elsewhere, among many other difficulties. A conviction means a criminal record, and a criminal record means collateral consequences even after you have paid your debt to society by completing a sentence successfully.
At Dolci & Weiland we want to make sure that you or your child doesn't have to suffer the consequences of a conviction. We are committed to your defense. Contact us today if you have been charged with minor in possession. We will review your case and outline your best options.
How does Illinois Define the Offense Minor in Possession?
Whether you go to higher education or are at home in high school still, alcohol is accessible. You may think because everyone else is doing it, you can, too. But you have to remember there are consequences for your actions. In Illinois, the Liquor Control Act under 235 ILCS 5/1 et seq. prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from consuming or possessing alcohol.
A minor can be found in possession of alcohol in one of two ways:
- actual possession, which means the alcohol was found in your hands or on your person (e.g., a flask of whiskey in your coat pocket during a football game); or
- constructive possession, which means the alcohol may not have been on your person (e.g., in your backpack on your shoulders) but it was still under your control (e.g., in the trunk of your car or in a cabinet in your dorm room).
The offense is the same regardless of whether it was found in your hands or in the trunk of your car.
What are the Penalties for a Minor in Possession Conviction in Illinois?
A charge of minor in possession is typically a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could result in:
- up to one year in the county jail
- up to $2,500 in fines
- probation or court supervision
- community service
- alcohol education or treatment program
- driver's license suspension between 3 and 12 months (due to Illinois's zero tolerance policy, and it doesn't matter if the alcohol was found in your car or not).
You could also face additional fines if you were arrested in a city or town where an ordinance also prohibits consumption and/or possession of alcohol by minors.
It is important to keep in mind that if you are convicted, you may be eligible to get your criminal record for minor in possession expunged or sealed, depending on your age and other important factors. At Dolci & Weiland, our first priority is getting the charges dismissed or winning an acquittal at trial unless a favorable plea deal is negotiated. In the event you are convicted, we can help you later get your record sealed, if applicable.
Are there Defenses in Illinois to an Allegation of Minor in Possession?
As in any case, you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At Dolci & Weiland, we work tirelessly to create that doubt. We will approach your case from all angles and defend your rights aggressively. With that said, there are some common defenses that may be applied in your case.
- Affirmative Defense. This defense requires that you admit to possessing the alcohol, but you had a justification for it. Maybe in your unique situation, you were at home, at a religious ceremony, or otherwise under the supervision of your parents when you possessed and/or consumed the alcohol.
- Suppression of Evidence. Under this defense strategy, the police may have violated your constitutional rights, and if so, then any evidence obtained from that violation can be excluded from evidence. In some situations, the police may have unlawfully searched you or your property without your consent and without a properly obtained and executed warrant. In other cases, the police may have pulled you over for a traffic stop without having the required reasonable suspicion to do so.
- Mistake of Fact. Under this defense, the facts were wrong. The alcohol found in a cabinet in your residence may have belonged to your roommate who is 21 years or older. The vehicle you were driving may not have been yours and the alcohol found in the trunk belonged to the owner of the vehicle.
- Lack of Evidence. The State may simply not have the evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt you committed the offense. If that's the case, the prosecutor may be willing to negotiate a plea deal. But plea deals are not always in your best interests, so it's important to discuss it thoroughly with your attorney to make an informed decision.
Having a good defense depends on the facts and circumstances as much as it does on the attorney who puts it together and executes it. To make sure you get the defense you deserve, reach out to Dolci & Weiland as soon as possible. The sooner we can review your case, the sooner we can begin the investigation into the facts and start building a strong defense.
Contact Minor in Possession Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
A conviction of an alcohol- or drug-related crime in Illinois is particularly harmful to a minor. You or your child have his or her future ahead of him or her. A criminal record can lead to significant penalties and life-long consequences. It is important that you seek the guidance and help of competent, aggressive criminal defense attorneys.
At Dolci & Weiland, we represent students and youth throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. We have offices in both DuPage County and Cook County. Contact us today for direct, honest answers to your minor in possession criminal case.