Many parents believe that if their teenagers (or children under 21) are going to drink alcohol with their friends, it would be safer for them to do it at home. They may not know it’s illegal to furnish alcohol to those who are under 21 no matter whether they are in your home or elsewhere.
Letting your kids have a party where beer or other alcoholic beverages are served can lead to you being charged with a crime that is punishable with a mandatory fine and, potentially, a jail term.
Penalties for Furnishing Alcohol To Minors
If you are arrested for furnishing alcohol to minors, you face being convicted of a misdemeanor of the third degree. The risks are:
- If you are charged, your fingerprints and mugshot will be taken, and you will be burdened with a criminal record
- If convicted, you will have to pay a fine of at least $1,000 for a first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent offense
- You can be sentenced to up to a year in prison
You could also face other long-term consequences like issues maintaining or obtaining employment as well as denied foster care and/or adoption applications.
What Pennsylvania Law Says About Furnishing Alcohol to Minors
In Pennsylvania it is illegal for a person to:
- intentionally and knowingly sell, or
- intentionally and knowingly furnish, or
- purchase with the intent to sell or furnish,
- any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to a person who is less than 21 years of age.
Of course this law does not apply to any religious service or ceremony which may be conducted in a private home or a place of worship where the amount of wine served does not exceed the amount reasonably, customarily, and traditionally required as an integral part of the service or ceremony.
If you are convicted of furnishing alcohol to minors, you face a mandatory fine of not less than $1,000 for the first violation and a fine of $2,500 for each subsequent violation. In addition, you will have a permanent criminal record.
What You Should Do if You’ve Been Charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors
Your first step should be to hire a juvenile attorney. Before your hearing is even scheduled, an experienced defense attorney can assess your case, meet with the Commonwealth to learn the evidence against you, and work with prosecutors to have your charges lowered or dismissed. An attorney will be at your side when you appear in court, ready to defend your case. For example, you might not be expecting the Commonwealth to bring in witnesses; a defense attorney most certainly will expect this and prepare you ahead of time. Your defense attorney can cross-examine them to determine the accuracy of their memories. In some instances, your attorney might be able to attend court on your behalf, saving you the hassle of showing up.
If your case is dismissed, you will be eligible to have your criminal record cleared (expunged). Your attorney can work with you to provide the documentation so your record can be expunged.