Vending or Providing Alcohol to People Under to 18 years of Age

What is California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors?

In California, it is against the law to vend or provide alcohol to a minor.  This law is double-sided in that it applies also to the “victim”.  Hence, this law criminalizes the conduct of vending or providing alcohol to the minor.  But it also criminalizes the minor’s conduct in that you commit a crime if you are the minor who bought, held, or drank the alcohol.  These prohibitions are codified in the California law books as California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.

What is the legal description of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors?

In the section above, we briefly described the overall character of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.  But we believe it is important that you take a moment and read this section as well.  Here, we will discuss the legal meaning and nuances of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.  This is important for a variety of reasons.  First, the legal description of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors sets forth what will be the likely important issues in your criminal prosecution.  Based on what the law demands, your attorney will search for evidence that will exculpate you.  Second, based on the important issues contained within the meaning of the law, the prosecutor will decide whether or not they have a good case against you.  Naturally, your attorney will be trying to convince them they do not.  If they have a good case on the important issues, they will be more likely to push a stricter punishment with the judge.  However, if your attorney can convince them their case is weak, the prosecutor might reduce the punishment or drop the charge entirely.  Hence, the important issues form the center-point in which all negotiation, debate, and argumentation occurs between your attorney and the prosecutor.  Third, we believe you should be as educated as possible when it comes to your case.  By knowing the law, you might be able to point out something to us we may not have seen.  Because we believe in open and consistent communication, our clients often point us towards a defense or alibi that breaks open their case.  In other words, if you are educated, you will be better able to help us help you.

There are three main ways you can be convicted of a criminal charge in the state of California.  One, you can formally confess.  Two, you can choose to accept a plea bargain offered by the prosecutor overseeing your case.  Third, you are convicted in a formal hearing where a judge or jury makes a final decision regarding guilt or innocence.  In this last way, you cannot be convicted of a crime unless the prosecutor proves their case against you.  To do this, they must prove all of the elements of the crime in which you are charged.  An element is simply a fact related to the crime.  Each element needs to be proven up to a particular level of certainty.  For a California crime, each element needs to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  If the case against you is strong, a prosecutor will be less likely to offer a deal.  But if it’s weak, the prosecutor will be more amenable to negotiation.  Remember, the prosecutor must prove all of the elements.  So even if their case is strong as a whole, but weak on just one element, they cannot win their case and will have to consider dropping their case.  For this reason, your attorney will focus on building the evidence in your favor on the important issues, which are discussed below.  If they can cast doubt on even just one element, you will have a chance at beating the charge.

(Note: remember that juries are comprised of everyday people.  This means that even though you might have a strong case, a jury may not give you the benefit of the doubt.  If you are lucky, they might give you the benefit of doubt!  It depends on the jury and on the person.  Hence, deciding on accepting a plea offer is an extremely personal decision.  You want an attorney who will openly and honestly talk you through the possible options and possibilities.  Furthermore, you want an attorney who has trial experience.  An attorney who can pick the best juries and be the most persuasive will give you the best chance on fighting criminal charges in the long run).

The elements of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors are as follows:

  1. You sold, provided, or gave alcohol to somebody OR You caused alcohol to be sold, provided, or given to somebody.
  2. The person who was sold, provided, or given alcohol was a minor.

Since, California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors is a double-sided law that also criminalizes the “victim”, you can earn a conviction if all of the following elements are met:

  1. You are a minor.
  2. You bought alcohol OR You consumed alcohol at a location where it is sold.

Additionally, this law applies to business establishments who sell alcohol.  Hence, a business that sells alcohol could be in trouble if all of the following elements are met:

  1. You own a licensed establishment that sells alcohol.
  2. You allow a minor to drink alcohol on the grounds.
  3. It is not a defense that that you did know whether or not the minor was of legal age to buy alcohol.

Remember, the prosecutor must prove all of the above elements.  If they cannot prove just one element, then you cannot be convicted in a trial hearing where the judge or jury makes the final verdict of innocence or guilt.  However, you can be convicted through the other means discussed above.

Minor

In California, under a California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors, a minor is considered to be somebody under the age of 21 years.  This is different than some laws that consider a minor to be under the age of 18 years.  Note, that it is not a defense in some situations that you did not know the minor was of legal age. 

Undercover Sting Operations

Law enforcement pursue California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors cases aggressively. The reason for this is that police agencies throughout California receive funding to pursue such cases from the California bureau on alcohol control.  One method they like to employ is setting up undercover sting operations.  Typically, they set these operations up at supermarkets or convenience stores.  They particularly like to set these operations up near universities and colleges.  In these operations, a minor will come up to you and ask that you purchase them alcohol.  They will give you the money.  In the mind of the target, this is not really a big problem, so they decide to do this favor for the minor.  When you give the minor the alcohol, the police will show up and arrest you.

You will be arrested because the minor was not actually a minor, but really a undercover officer who just looks young.  Although, in many cases, the police just hide out and watch you providing alcohol to a person under the age of 21.

Another common method used by law enforcement is called the “trapdoor”.  This is an old, established police operation tactic.  In this tactic, the targets are minors who try to use fake or improper IDs in order to get into bars or clubs or to buy alcohol.  Here, business establishments that have a valid, legal alcohol license inform the police that a minor was using an improper license to procure alcohol.  The storeowner or bartender keeps the minor busy until the police arrive on site to arrest the minor.  In addition to charges of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors, the minor could also face charges for making an improper license, using a fake license, or using another person’s license.

What are the available legal defenses to fight a charge of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors?

As we will discuss later, the potential punishments under California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors can be quite severe.  Fortunately, there are a variety of legal defenses to fight charges of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.  Talk to an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney to find out which legal defenses are available in your specific case.  If the evidence against you is strong, your attorney might want to rely on procedural defenses.  For example, your attorney might want to use a Motion to Suppress to make something you said or did inadmissible in court.  Hence, without this evidence, the prosecutor cannot prove their case.  However, if the evidence against you is weak, your attorney might want to rely more on substantive defenses.  By doing this, your attorney makes clear that the charges against you are incomplete and should be dismissed.  Of course, the best strategy will probably require a mix of both substantive and procedural defenses.  Talk with a criminal defense attorney to see how they would approach your case and to find out the best way to maximize the best possible outcome in your particular situation.

Mistake of Fact

Mistake of fact is the most common defense used against a charge of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.  Normally, mistake of fact is not an available legal defense to strict liability crimes, such as California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors.  A strict liability offense is a crime where the prosecutor is not required to show that you had a particular criminal intent to convict you.  For example, for California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors, the prosecutor does not need to show that you knew that the minor you provided alcohol was under the legal age.  You can technically be convicted of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors regardless of whether you actually knew or not the minor’s legal status as someone under the age of 21.

However, California courts have increasingly allowing a Mistake of Fact defense if it can be shown that your error in thinking that a minor was actually over the age of 21 was both honest and reasonable.  In other words, if you can show that you honestly and reasonably did not know that the person you gave alcohol was under the of 21, you can be acquitted of the charges.  Reasonability in this situation is determined by what is called an objective standard.  The court will look at your situation and make a decision on whether or not a prudent, average person could come up to the same conclusion as you did.

Of course, what an average person thinks depends on the jury.  A jury-member who is an old lady might think everybody looks young and think that your belief was unreasonable.  However, a jury-member who is a young man might think everybody looks old and see that you were acting reasonably.  Hence, you need an attorney skilled and experienced in picking juries.  The type of jury you get can make or break your case.

The facts of the case will also matter a great deal regarding whether or not this defense is available.  If the minor buying alcohol was wearing a shirt bearing the name of their high school and had a young looking face, then your belief that they were over 21 would seem unreasonable.  But if the minor was wearing a lot of makeup and dressed provocatively, then your belief might seem more reasonable.  Again, what is considered reasonable depends on the eye of the beholder.  In this case, the jury composition will play a large role in determining whether or not something was reasonable.

Exemptions Maintained by Law

The following defenses are specifically outlined in the California law books.

B & P Code 25660:  If you are a business establishment that maintains a license to sell alcohol, and you sold alcohol to a minor or allowed them to consume it on the business grounds, then you might have a defense that removes your criminal liability if you did so because you reasonably relied on a legitimate government ID card.  The ID card doesn’t have to be legitimate itself.  It could be counterfeited.  The issue will be whether or not you reasonably believed that it was a legitimate government ID.  As discussed above, reasonability is assessed according to the objective standard described above.

B & P Code 25667:  This defense is intended to protect minors from the dangers of alcohol consumption – removing criminal liability in specific situations.  For example, you are exempt from criminal liability if you call 911 for either yourself or somebody else because they needed to go to the hospital for drinking alcohol.  However, to qualify for this defense, you must have been the first person to call 911.  And you must stay at the scene until the paramedics or police arrive.  When they arrive, you must assist the police or paramedics in the situation.  Lastly, you must not have been participating in a dangerous activity because of drinking alcohol.  (The most common example of this is drinking and driving).  If you do all of these things, then you qualify for a legal defense under this code.

What are the potential punishments under California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors?

California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors is classified as a misdemeanor.  Misdemeanors are usually pursued by the local City Attorney’s Office.  However, if you have other charges containing felonies, then the prosecutor will likely come from the District Attorney’s Office.  The potential punishments under California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors depend on the particular facts of your case.

Penalties for Providing Alcohol to a Minor

If you are convicted of giving alcohol to someone under the age of 21, then you could receive a sanction of up to one thousand dollars.  Additionally, the court will likely sentence you with a minimum of twenty-four hours of community service.  Typically, the community service must be done at a treatment center or at a coroner’s office.  The court wants you to see the negative effects of drinking alcohol and the potential consequences.

If you provided alcohol to a minor, and that minor suffers significant physical injury because they drank the alcohol, then you could potentially be sentenced with up to one year in a county jail and/or a maximum sanction of one thousand dollars.  Note, that the minimum sentence you will receive is six months in a county jail.  Furthermore, you could also face charges under PC 272 for assisting a minor’s law-breaking.  A conviction under this law could result in up to a year in a county jail and a maximum sanction of $2,500.

Parents who give their minor children alcohol.

If you are a parent who permits their minor child to drink alcohol at your home, then you are subject to criminal liabilities.  If convicted, you could receive a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum sanction of one thousand dollars.  To be convicted under this law, all of the following must occur: the child’s BAC must be higher than .05, you allowed the child to drive a vehicle, and your child caused a car accident.

Minors who drink or buy alcohol.

If you are a minor who bought or consumed alcohol, then you could receive any or all of the following potential punishments: a $250 sanction and up to 32 hours of community service.  If you have been convicted of California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors in the past, then the fine goes up to $500 and the community service goes up to 48 hours.  Also, you could also have your driver’s license suspended for up to one year.  This applies even if you do not have a license yet.  The time suspension will be applied to the time at which you would become eligible to drive.

Serving Alcohol to Minors

If you have a license to sell alcohol and you knowingly allow a minor to drink on your business’ grounds, regardless of whether you knew they were a minor or not, then you could face the penalties described above.  Additionally, the ABC bureau will likely suspend your license for 15 days for a first offense.  If you are found guilty of committing another offense within the next three years, then you will face a suspension of 25 days.  If convicted for a third time, you will have your license revoked.  Note, your attorney can argue that you pay a sanction instead of having the license suspended.  However, this is only a possibility for the first or second conviction.

What should you do if you are charged with California Business & Professions Code 25658 BP Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors?

The best thing you can do is hire a skilled and experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney as quickly as possible.  We know this sounds cliché.  But there are many reasons why hiring an attorney early, or even preventively, is advantageous.  First, a talented attorney can work to prevent charges from being filed in the first place.  After a crime is reported, there is usually a period of time before prosecutors decide to file charges.  The police and prosecutors are conducting an investigation in this time.  Your attorney can show them evidence they might not otherwise see.  Or bring up aspects of the case they would not otherwise consider.  In many cases, a skilled California Criminal defense attorney can get a case dismissed before any charges are filed.   And in certain cases, you can avoid a formal arrest on your record as well.  Second, evidence can become stale or disappear the longer you wait.  Witnesses might move or forget information that is necessary to defend your case.  For example, alibis are usually easier to develop when memories are fresh.  Its hard to prove where a person was months after.  Third, the best defense is one that prepares for the long run.  Some attorneys deal with your case on a fleeting basis.  We approach each case as if it’s going to trial.  Even though most cases don’t go to trial, judges and prosecutors can instantly tell which attorneys are ready to do so if they need to.  Hence, prepared attorneys get better deals from prosecutors and more benefit of the doubt from judges.  This strategy results in better outcomes for our clients.

We know you have many questions.  And you must be worried about the effect criminal charges will have on you, your life, and your family.  After all, a criminal conviction can affect your employment and could take you away from your family.  We invite you to come talk to us for a free consultation.  We will happily go over your case and answer any questions about what sorts of defenses are available, what the potential punishments are, and what the big issues will be in your case. 

For a free consultation, call one of our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney at 424-333-0943.

Free Case Evaluation

Call 424-333-0943 24/7 if you want to retain excellent attorneys.

Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Review

Facebook Reviews for Criminal Defense

Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Reviews

Criminal Defense Awards

Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice.

Criminal Defense Reviews

5.0 out of 5.0
Based on 73 reviews
City: Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney