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Charged with Underage Possession of Alcohol in Virginia? Here's what you should do.

By David Cardon on August 12, 2016


How does Virginia law define underage possession of alcohol? Can I be convicted if I have been drinking, but don't actually have any alcohol in my possession? Do I need a lawyer to represent me for this?  What type of lawyer should I hire?

Underage Possession of Alcohol Defined:  In Virginia the courts have ruled that using alcohol implies possession of alcohol. Therefore, even though a defendant may not have any containers of alcohol, he/she still possesses alcohol if he/she has alcohol in his/her body.  The specific law dealing with underage possession of alcohol is Virginia Code Section 4.1–305. The punishment for violating this law is a class one misdemeanor that carries a jail sentence up to 12 months and a fine up to $2500.  In addition, the statute provides that on conviction the judge must order the accused to pay a fine of at least $500.00 or to perform a minimum of 50 hours of community service. In addition, the judge has the power to suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for up to one year, but can issue a restricted driving permit if the Judge determines it appropriate.  

Do I need a lawyer to represent me for Underage Possession of Alcohol?  Because the punishment for this charge is serious; you could go to jail, lose your license to drive, and/or be ordered to pay a high fine, and have a blemish on your criminal record, I believe having a lawyer, knowledgeable in criminal defense, represent you is both smart and advisable.  In addition, a good lawyer might have arguments in court that could lead to a dismissal.  For example, how did the police verify your age? Do they remember to prove that essential fact in court?  Did they verify you had been drinking my your own admission?  If so, was your admission made after your Miranda rights were read, and if not, should your statements be deemed inadmissible?  These are just a few issues that could be relevant in your case. A seasoned lawyer will know what issues to bring up to defend you and possibly get your case dismissed.

Which lawyer should I hire?  When interviewing an attorney, make sure the attorney has experience handling underage possession of alcohol cases in the jurisdiction you were charged.  An experienced attorney will know the judges, police officers and prosecutors and should be able to defend you and predict what will happen to you in court.

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