House parties are common when kids are out of school and college students are back at their homes for the summer. Social media makes it easy for teens to learn about these events, and small gatherings can quickly turn into huge, out-of-control parties.
Unfortunately, many partygoers are surprised to find that there can be severe consequences if police find out that people under the age of 21 are drinking.
When Can the Police Break Up a Party?
Police may arrive after receiving noise complaints from neighbors. If there are noise ordinances in your town that prohibit loud noises during specific hours, police may ask you to keep it down.
But they may also show up to break up a party if they suspect partygoers to be participating in underage drinking. If this is the case, they may arrest minors for drinking and the homeowners for allowing them to do so.
What Happens When the Police Break Up a Party?
Here’s what police do when they bust a party. Police will come to the door and ask to talk to the owner about complaints about a party. You have the right to decline their entry without a warrant.
However, if they have reasonable cause to suspect that illegal activity is happening, they may be able to enter without a warrant. Drunk teenagers outside are enough cause for police to enter. Remember to be respectful when speaking to the police. Any disrespect, signs of aggression, or defensiveness could be detrimental to your case.
What Happens When Police Enter a Home?
Once the police have entered a house to break up an underage party, they will check IDs and arrest people drinking underage or using/possessing drugs.
The homeowner will be questioned and held responsible for any illegal activities. Even if the party was held without the owner’s knowledge, they might be held liable.
People may attempt to flee a party being busted by police. However, penalties for any illegal activity will worsen if you are caught since you tried to evade police custody. For this reason, it is in your best interest to cooperate with the police and contact your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
How to Handle Police When They Break Up a House Party
Cooperating with the police does not mean that you need to answer their questions. It simply means you are not resisting their attempts to question, detain, or arrest you. Remember, you are never required to speak to the police without a lawyer present.
Only provide basic information such as your name and address, then wait to be dismissed or taken into custody. You can work out your defense strategy with your attorney later.
What Charges Could the Owner and Guests Face?
The most obvious consequences for a house party will be any individual arrests for underage drinking or illegal drug use. However, there are many other penalties that most partiers don’t consider.
Providing Alcohol to Minors
Parents or legal drinkers who are caught supplying alcohol, even inadvertently, to minors face serious criminal liabilities. It is illegal to give alcohol to underage people and minors.
Even simply allowing them to enter a private party where alcohol is consumed can make parents responsible if they don’t have measures in place to prevent underage attendees from accessing alcohol.
Failure to Prevent Underage Drinking
Even if the homeowner was unaware that their child was throwing a party and drinking alcohol, they could be held responsible for not preventing illegal activity.
In some states, parents are subject to serious financial consequences, including fines and restitution to victims if illegal activities at the party lead to accidents. Furthermore, they can be charged in the criminal courts for contributing to the delinquency of a minor or other similar charges.
Other Potential Charges
Another critical thing to remember is that “borrowing” an empty or abandoned building for a big party is illegal and may lead to trespassing charges. Also, felony charges like burglary may be filed if anything is taken or damaged during the party.
What Happens If a Party Gets Busted, But You Were Not Drinking?
Here’s what happens if a party gets busted but you’re not drinking. It depends on the police officers you encounter that night.
Unfortunately, they do not have to give you a breathalyzer test. However, they can still file charges if they just suspect that you have been drinking. The main thing to remember is that if you haven’t been drinking, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Be confident and proud that you took the responsibility to decide to be sober.
Get Help From a Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney
With teenagers constantly checking social media, it is never safe to assume that an illegal party will stay a secret. If you or your child are charged with a crime in relation to an underage party, you should hire an attorney immediately.
Contact our experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at 412-281-2146 any time to discuss your specific situation further. Or complete our convenient contact form, and we will reach out to you to find out more about the charges you or your child may be facing.