Underage Drinking

Criminal – Charged with underaged drinking in MA- either High school or College – will the charge stay on my record?

Nobody can deny that underaged drinking is commonplace in the state of Massachusetts. Young adults in high school and college push the boundaries and experiment with their newfound independence. While it is important that the law incentivizes against this risky behavior, a youthful transgression should not follow a person into their adulthood. Unfortunately, in many cases, underage drinking marks a person’s record permanently unless they take action.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess alcohol unless they are with a parent or legal guardian. First offenses carry a 50$ fine and 90-day license suspension. While underage drinking appears like a minor offense only resulting in a fine or license suspension, the collateral consequences can be long-lasting. License suspensions will likely drive up insurance premiums. The main concern, however, is keeping this charge off your criminal record. A charge for underaged drinking shows up as an MIP (Minor in Possession of Alcohol) on your record. Judges tend to be sympathetic to young adults with no previous criminal convictions, and the likelihood of dismissal is pretty good. But even if you are not convicted, the fact that you were charged will be annotated on your record. This applies to cases that are not prosecuted, that end in “not guilty” verdicts, or that are dismissed after probation. If you are convicted, the conviction will be widely accessible. You will have to explain this when applying to college, or any post-graduate school after college. It can affect your ability to get a professional license in the future, and paint you in a negative light when applying to jobs.

Can I Seal my Record?

We can help you seal or expunge your record. Sealing your record means it is no longer visible to the public, but some agencies will still have access. Expunging, however, completely wipes the record clean, so nobody will be able to access it. Most convictions and other dispositions can be sealed. There may be a waiting period depending on the outcome of the case. The law also allows expungement if the offense took place before your 21st birthday. This excludes those charged with sex offenses, offenses against an elderly person, a restraining order violation, or an OUI. This also does not apply to those with subsequent court appearances on their record excluding motor vehicle offenses. This is excellent news for people charged with underaged drinking, as anyone charged with this with no serious criminal intervention after should be eligible to have the charge expunged.

Contact us to have your record expunged. We can contact the District Attorney and get the process going. If the prosecution objects, we are ready and willing to fight your case in front of a judge. You should not pay for a youthful mistake well into our adult life, and certainly not one as common as underage drinking.

If you are under 21 and have been charged with any alcohol related offense, it is very important to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Altman & Altman, LLP has extensive experience with minor and alcohol related charges and we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and reputation. We are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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