It is not a secret to every teenager and adult that you must be at least twenty-one years old to purchase and consume alcohol legally in California. Any person who provides or sells alcohol to a child under eighteen will face an arrest and criminal charges under California Business and Professions Code 25658. This double-sided statute seeks to punish minors who use fake identification to purchase alcohol or consume it at an establishment.
The penalties for furnishing or vending alcohol to a child include community service, jail time, and fines. Despite existing regulations, it is common for alcohol vendors or other individuals to be wrongfully accused of the offense owing to a mistake of facts. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is one of the steps you must take after an arrest for violating this law. At Los Angeles Criminal attorney, we will help protect your rights and build a solid defense against your charges. We serve clients battling charges under BPC 25658 in Los Angeles, CA.
An Overview of California Business and Professions Code 25658
When a law enforcement officer arrests you for providing alcohol or selling to a minor, you could face criminal charges for violating BPC 25658. The consequences of committing this offense can be challenging for the person who provides the alcohol and the minor who consumes it.
In your criminal trial, the prosecutor must prove that you engaged in unlawful conduct. Due to the high standard of criminal cases in California, the prosecutor must prove the following elements of the crime to obtain a conviction:
You Sold or Provided Alcohol to Someone
Depending on your actions as the defendant, different scenarios constitute the sale or provision of alcohol. Selling alcohol requires you to be an owner or employee of a liquor store. The prosecutor must prove that you were mandated to sell alcoholic beverages. A regular sale under this statute includes exchanging alcohol for money or other goods.
To back up their claim that you sold the alcohol, the prosecutor must present receipts indicating dates and times of purchase. If you purchase alcohol for a minor, the prosecutor must prove that you offered or volunteered to buy the drinks for the child. Even when a minor is found in possession of alcohol, it can be challenging for the prosecution to prove that you are responsible for giving it to them.
The person Who Received the Alcohol Was Under Eighteen Years
Selling and consumption of alcohol are legal in California. However, individuals under twenty-one years cannot legally purchase or use alcohol. Therefore, the prosecutor proves your guilt under BPC 25658 by showing that you sold or provided alcoholic drinks to a person under eighteen. The necessity of this element is critical since disputing the recipient's age could result in a dismissal of your case.
Before you face a conviction, the court will subpoena the identification documents of the recipient to determine their exact age. Using these documents helps decide whether or not you violated the law. There is a wide variety of acts that could constitute furnishing alcohol to a minor, including:
- Allowing a child to be in a home or house party where alcohol is served, and you do nothing to restrict their access to the alcohol.
- You place alcoholic drinks in an underage person’s vehicle.
- Placing alcohol near a minor with the intent that they will consume it.
California law does not require you to personally hand the alcohol to the minor for you to be charged under this statute. Additionally, your knowledge of a person’s age is not a factor in your prosecution.
You Consumed Alcohol
If you face charges for the purchase and consumption of alcohol, the prosecutor must prove that you violated the statutory regulations by taking the alcohol. The prosecution is keen to show that you either consumed the alcohol in the establishment where you purchased it or outside the premises. A prosecutor’s claim that a minor consumed alcohol will be substantiated when there is physical evidence or witness testimony to support the claims.
You were Arrested in a Trapdoor Operation
Various circumstances lead to an arrest and charges under BPC 25658. One of the ways that law enforcement officers use to catch minors is by setting up operations in clubs. As soon as the minor presents the forged identification to purchase the alcohol, they could face an arrest and charges. Prosecution of minors arrested in a trapdoor operation is easier for the prosecutors.
You are a Vendor or Own an Alcohol-Selling Establishment
When you are licensed to sell alcohol in California, you could be charged with furnishing or vending alcohol to a minor if a child is found taking alcoholic drinks in your establishment. Whether or not you served the alcohol, you could lose your license after a conviction. Like trapdoor operations, law enforcement officers carry out an undercover operation to catch vendors who allow minors to consume alcohol and sell it to them at their facilities.
Sentencing and Punishment for Vending or Providing Alcohol to Minors
A violation of California Business and Professions Code 25658 is a misdemeanor. However, the penalties you face vary depending on the actual conduct in which you engage. The penalties you could face for violating this statute include the following:
Punishment for Providing Alcohol to a Child
If you face a conviction for providing alcohol to a person under eighteen years, the court imposes a $1000 fine. Additionally, you must serve community service for up to 24 hours. The aim of performing community service at a treatment center is so you can understand the impact and potential consequences of alcohol consumption.
If a child suffers serious bodily injury after consuming the alcohol you provided, your conviction will result in a one-year jail sentence and $1,000 in fines. When you give alcohol to a child, you could face additional charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor under California Penal Code 272.
Penalties for Parents Who Allow Minors to Drink
As a parent, allowing your child or another child under eighteen to consume alcohol can attract an arrest and criminal charges. You risk facing a jail sentence of up to one year and fines not exceeding $1,000 if:
- The child had a BAC of up to 0.05% after the alcohol consumption.
- The child was drunk driving.
- The minor caused an accident while under the influence.
Minors Purchasing Alcohol
California Business and Professions Code 25658 cuts across both ways. Minors who purchase or consume alcohol can be punished under this statute. If you are a minor and drink alcohol or buy an alcoholic beverage, you could face up to 32 hours of community service and a $250 fine. The court will order 48 hours of community service and a $500 fine for a subsequent offense.
In addition to the fines and community service, a minor will suffer a one-year driver’s license suspension. If you have not obtained the license, your eligibility is delayed by one year.
Serving Alcohol to Minors
If you possess a license to sell alcohol, you could be charged with violating BPC 25658 for allowing a person under eighteen to consume alcohol in your establishment. Whether or not you knew the age of the person you served, alcohol does not play a part in your arrest and prosecution. A conviction for serving alcohol to a minor will result in up to $250 in fines and a minimum of twenty-four hours of community service for a first offense. If you face a second or third offense, you will face heftier fines and a license suspension.
Liquor License Revocation or Suspension
You must have a state license to sell alcohol from your establishment. When you are found guilty of selling alcohol to a child intentionally or unintentionally, you could lose your permit. Losing your state license means you cannot continue to sell alcohol, which could affect your business significantly.
Probation for Selling Alcohol to Minors
Instead of spending time in jail for violating Business and Professions Code 25658, the court could send you to informal probation. Misdemeanor probation lasts for one to three years, depending on the circumstances of your case. Although the probation sentence will keep you out of jail, the court could impose strict conditions to be followed throughout the probation period. Failure to comply with the probation conditions will result in harsh consequences, including jail time.
Legal Defense Against Business and Professions Code 25658
The potential punishment that accompanies a conviction for vending or furnishing alcohol to a minor can be severe. Fortunately, an arrest under this statute will not always result in a conviction. There are a variety of defenses you can use to fight your charges. The first defense strategy for any criminal charge is to seek a dismissal of the case or a not-guilty verdict.
If the evidence against you is strong, your attorney can explore procedural defenses like filing a motion to suppress evidence. Whichever road you take for your defense, you must ensure to have a skilled criminal lawyer at your side. Common defenses against BPC 25658 charges include:
Mistake of Fact
Arguing a mistake of fact is not an acceptable defense for strict liability crimes. A strict liability crime is an offense where the prosecution does not need to prove a criminal intent to prove your guilt. For example, you can be charged with vending alcohol to a minor even when you did not know that the person was under eighteen years. You cannot argue for lack of knowledge as a defense.
However, California courts allow defendants to claim an error in thinking that the minor was an adult as a defense for your Business and Professions Code 25658. You can beat your criminal charges by showing a reasonable belief that the purchase to which you sold or provided alcohol was an adult and could legally purchase or take the alcohol.
When determining whether your judgment was reasonable, the judge will assess your situation and compare it with the observations and actions of an average person under the circumstances. The jury determines how an average person would think. For example, an older person on the jury would perceive that each young-looking person is a minor and should not be purchasing alcohol. This situation may be quite different when the jury is made of young people.
Other factors of your case, like the minor's clothing and the location where you provided the alcohol, could be vital in determining whether your reasoning is justifiable. For example, when you sell alcohol on high school grounds, you cannot justify your reasoning that the students were adults. If you wish to present a mistake of fact as a defense for your charges, the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney is critical.
The law addresses the following defenses to vending or providing alcohol to minors:
Business and Professions Code 25667
Under California BPC 25667, a minor cannot be charged with alcohol consumption when you purchase or consume the alcohol under the following circumstances:
- You called 911 to report that another individual needs immediate medical attention resulting from alcohol consumption.
- You are the first individual to call the emergency responders.
- You do not leave the scene until the medical responders arrive and you cooperate with them.
- You or the other minors were not involved in other alcohol-related crimes like underage DUI.
Business and Professions Code 25660
Selling alcohol to a minor from your establishment can result in an arrest and criminal charges. However, you are exempt from prosecution if the minor presents a valid driver’s license, US passport, or identification card. You can argue that you relied on this fact to believe that the person purchasing the alcohol was an adult.
Using this defense, the identification card or driver’s license must not be government-issued. You can escape the charges and conviction if the ID looked genuine from your inspection and would be the same for any other reasonable adult. However, you can still be charged if the ID does not appear authentic.
The prosecutor aims to obtain a conviction against you regardless of the circumstances. Therefore, they will be aggressive in finding and presenting evidence to show that this defense does not apply to your case. Having a reliable criminal lawyer by your side is vital in presenting a successful BPC 25660 defense.
Frequently Asked Questions on Business and Professions Code 25658
Most establishments that sell alcohol are often too busy to check identification for all their customers. Therefore, it is easy to be caught up in a legal battle for selling alcohol to a child. Facing an arrest and charges for this offense can be challenging for most people to understand. The following are frequently asked questions about vending or providing alcohol to a minor:
Can a parent provide alcohol to their children?
No. In California, there is no exception for individuals who could be charged with providing alcohol to minors. Therefore, if you allow a child to consume alcohol or taste from your glass at a restaurant, you could be charged for the offense. Additionally, such an act could cause your child to face misdemeanor charges for consuming alcohol.
Can I be found guilty of selling alcohol to a minor if they used a forged ID?
Selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor is a strict liability crime. Therefore, the prosecutor does not need to prove your knowledge or lack of understanding of the minor's age when selling or offering alcoholic beverages. Therefore, if the minor purchased the alcohol with a fake ID, you have the responsibility of proving to the court that the ID appeared authentic and you reasonably believed that the child was an adult.
Can my child consume alcohol in a religious ceremony?
While some states have exemptions to when a child can consume alcohol, there are no such exemptions in California. Therefore, if you offer alcohol to your child in such a ceremony, you will be equally guilty of violating BPC 25658.
Offenses Related to Business and Professions Code 25658
When you face an arrest and charges for allowing a minor to take alcohol or selling alcoholic beverages to a child, the prosecution can introduce the following related offenses to your case:
Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
Under California law, minors lack the mental capacity to make the right decisions. Therefore, when you offer or sell alcohol to a child who then engages in delinquent conduct, you risk, you could face additional charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. California Penal Code 272 defines this crime as enabling a person under eighteen to be a habitual truant or engage in juvenile delinquent behavior.
Before you face charges for violating PC 272, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You committed an act or failure to perform a duty. When you face POC 272 charges in addition to furnishing alcohol to a minor, the prosecutor will use the act of providing alcohol or preventing the child from drinking as a basis for your criminal case.
- Your actions or lack of action contributed to the delinquency or truancy of a child.
Under California law, parents must exercise reasonable care, protection, and control over their children. Therefore, any act by a parent or a guardian that causes a minor to be delinquent may attract charges for both the minor and the parent.
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and fines that do not exceed $1,000. The judge has the discretion to place you on probation instead of jail. If you face a conviction for selling alcohol to a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, you could be looking at a lengthy jail sentence. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is critical.
Furnishing Marijuana to a Minor
California Health and Safety Code 11361 makes it a crime for an adult to:
- Sell or give marijuana to a child.
- Induce a juvenile to use marijuana.
- Employ a child to sell or transport marijuana.
Like Business and Professions Code 25658, furnishing marijuana to a minor is one of the offenses involving underage individuals in illegal activities. When proving your guilt under HSC 11361, the prosecution must prove that you:
- Sold, gave, or furnished marijuana to a child.
- You hired the child to transport the controlled substance.
- You were an adult at the time of the crime.
- The minor was under eighteen years.
- You knew about the nature of marijuana as a controlled substance in California.
There are some instances when you could be charged with vending alcohol to a minor and furnishing marijuana. For example, when you hold a party where minors are present, provide them with alcohol and marijuana.
Unlike other marijuana-related offenses, violation of Health and Safety Code 11361 is a felony. A conviction under this statute attracts a prison sentence of three, four, or five years. The court could impose a harsher sentence if the child to whom you provided marijuana were under fourteen years. Instead of serving your prison sentence, the court could sentence you to felony probation. This sentence allows you to serve a one-year jail sentence and three to five years on supervised probation.
In addition to community service, probation sentences accompany drug testing and substance abuse counseling. The consequences of a felony conviction go beyond incarceration and probation. Therefore, you must fight the charges aggressively to avoid a conviction.
Find a Knowledgeable Defense Attorney Near Me
Giving or selling alcohol to a person under eighteen years is a crime that will result in an arrest and criminal charges. Whether you provide the alcohol at home or an establishment without knowing their age, charges under Business and Professions Code 25658 may be inevitable. If you or your loved one faces criminal charges for furnishing or vending alcohol to a person under eighteen, you risk facing harsh penalties, including jail time.
Additionally, the consequences of your conviction may affect your business due to the suspension of your alcohol sale license. Fortunately, not all arrests under this statute will result in a conviction. You can explore various defenses, including a mistake of fact and other legal exemptions.
Presenting a defense against Business and Possessions Code 25658 can be challenging. Therefore, hiring and retaining a skilled criminal attorney is essential. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we offer the guidance and representation you need to battle your criminal charges in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us at 424-333-0943 today.