possession of alcohol by a minor

Possession of alcohol by a minor is illegal in North Carolina. Most people would like to go through their entire life without being charged with a crime.  Though this is a reasonable goal on the surface, sometimes criminal charges occur much more easily than a person might think.  A great example of this, would be crimes associated with the possession and consumption of alcohol by minors.   Though it is a common occurrence for youth under the age of 21 to drink, carry, and possess alcohol, many of those youths don’t understand how serious the consequences of those actions may become.

In this blog, we will discuss these laws, as they are written in North Carolina.  Like all of our blogs, this is intended for information purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.

Sales to or purchase of alcohol by underage persons

Some commonly charged crimes regarding underage drinking or possession of alcohol relate to the purchase of said alcohol.

Most laws regarding the sale to or purchase of alcohol by minors in North Carolina are covered under North Carolina General Statute 18b-302.  Under this statute:

  • Purchase, Possession, or Consumption – It shall be unlawful for:
  • A person less than 21 years old to purchase, to attempt to purchase, or to possess malt beverages or unfortified wine or;
  • A person less than 21 years old to purchase, to attempt to purchase, or to possess fortified wine, spirituous liquor, or mixed beverages; or
  • A person less than 21 years old to consume any alcoholic beverage.

Consequences of violating these laws

Typically, these crimes are punished as misdemeanors and adhere to the North Carolina misdemeanor sentencing guidelines.  Accordingly:

  • Typically, any person who is under 21 who violates the above-mentioned laws is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.  
  • Typically, anyone who is over the age of 21 who violates these laws, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Example: Your 17-year-old cousin asks you to buy him and his friends some beer for their party they plan on having. In this scenario, if you are over the age of 21, you would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, and your 17-year-old cousin would be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

*Keep in mind, like all crimes the person who is charged with this crime is innocent until proven guilty and it is the government’s burden to prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are many crimes that people tend not to take seriously but should.  A criminal record can affect your future in many ways including limiting job opportunities, affecting sentencing for future crimes, and many other things.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact us.  At Gilles Law, we handle criminal defense in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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