Hackensack NJ Underage Drinking Lawyer
Underage Alcohol Possession Attorney in Bergen County and New Jersey
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among American youth, including those in New Jersey. For parents and children alike, many assume that young people will consume some form of alcohol before turning 21 (the legal drinking age). Research supports this assumption. For example, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health behaviors among youth and young adults, including the consumption of alcohol. According to this report, among the representative sample of high school students grades 9 through 12, 33 percent drank some amount of alcohol, 18 percent binge drank, 8 percent drove after drinking alcohol, and 20 percent rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. In addition, data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that alcohol consumption increases with age, from less than 1 percent at age 12, to 16 percent at age 16, and 51 percent at age 20. All of this evidence notwithstanding, any consumption of alcohol before a person turns 21 is a crime under New Jersey law. However common it may be, a conviction for underage drinking can significantly hinder your future educational, employment, and other opportunities.
Alissa Hascup is an award-winning criminal defense attorney who represents juveniles, students, and other young adults charged with underage drinking, underage DWI, and other alcohol-related crimes throughout New Jersey. Recently named among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America by the National Trial Lawyers Association, Alissa uses her incredible skill at the negotiating table and in the courtroom to deliver superior results for her clients. From Essex County to Bergen County, and Hudson County to Union County, she regularly represents college students from universities like Montclair State, Fairleigh Dickinson, Kean, and Drew, as well as high school students and other young adults. During her career, Ms. Hascup has served as a Municipal Prosecutor and Assistant County Prosecutor. She now leverages her intimate knowledge of the way in which the State prosecutes these cases to formulate the most effective defense strategies for those she represents. For additional information and answers to your questions, contact The Law Offices of Alissa Hascup today at 862-257-1200. She will be happy to discuss the circumstances of your case and provide you with a cost-free consultation.
Underage Possession and Consumption of Alcohol in New Jersey
Underage drinking is a criminal offense in New Jersey, governed by a broad statute that encompasses both the possession and consumption of alcohol by underage persons. This crime, outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, is typically classified as a disorderly persons offense. Under New Jersey law, any person under the legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages in New Jersey (21), who knowingly possesses or consumes any alcoholic beverage in any school, public conveyance, public place, place of public assembly, or motor vehicle, can be charged with a violation of this statute.
Juvenile Underage Drinking Charges in New Jersey
If you are charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol in New Jersey and you are under the age of 18, you are legally considered a juvenile, which means that your case will be adjudicated in the juvenile justice system, as opposed to the adult criminal justice system. Per the procedural rules of the juvenile court system, your case will be heard and decided in the Family Division of the Superior Court in your county in which you live. In other words, if you are accused of committing a crime in Essex County, but you live in Bergen County, you will appear before a Family Court judge in the Bergen County Superior Court in Hackensack. At this proceeding, you are required to have an attorney who will represent you. He or she can argue a vigorous defense on your behalf.
If you are found guilty of underage possession of consumption of alcohol (underage drinking), you are technically adjudicated delinquent, which is similar to a criminal conviction for an adult. Nevertheless, the sentence imposed in your case may differ significantly from that of an adult defendant convicted of the same crime. In juvenile court, the legal standard is the best interests of the child. This provides judges with broad discretion when determining appropriate sentences. At sentencing, judges evaluate factors including: the nature and circumstances of the offense; your age, previous record, and social services received; your unique needs; and the likelihood that you will respond well to reformative measures. Potential sentences in juvenile cases include: probation, community service, mental health counseling, detention (incarceration), drug rehabilitation treatment, suspension of driving privileges, or restitution. In order to achieve the best possible outcome, you are strongly encouraged to have a knowledgeable juvenile defense attorney representing your interests.
Notably, if you are adjudicated delinquent for underage possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, you will face a mandatory suspension of your driving privileges for 6 months. If you have yet to turn 17, your will be subject to a 6-month delay in getting your license, which will run until 6 months after your seventeenth birthday.
Underage Drinking Charges for College Students and Young Adults in NJ
If you are 18 or older and charged with underage drinking (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15) in New Jersey, you are considered an adult under the law and thus, will be subject to the rules and procedures of the adult criminal justice system. Since underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a disorderly persons offense, you will be required to appear in the local Municipal Court in the municipality in which the charges were filed. In other words, if you were charged with underage drinking in Montclair, you will be prosecuted in the Montclair Municipal Court. Underage drinking spells serious consequences for those found guilty, including:
- A sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000 (with a minimum fine of $500)
- A conviction on your criminal record
It is important to note that if you are convicted of possession or consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, you face a mandatory 6-month suspension of your driver’s license, in addition to any of the penalties above.
Contact a Montclair NJ Underage Drinking Defense Attorney for Immediate Assistance
If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking or another alcohol-related crime in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Alissa Hascup for immediate assistance. With offices in Little Falls, Morristown, Hackensack, and Camden, Ms. Hascup appears in courts throughout the state on a regular basis. Call 862-257-1200 today to receive your cost-free consultation.