Have you been charged with possession of alcohol by a minor in Indiana?
You can go to war at age 17, however, you must be 21 to legally possess or consume alcohol in Indiana. Although this is the lowest-level crime in Indiana (a Class C misdemeanor) and your chance of spending time in jail if convicted is close to 0%, avoiding a criminal conviction (especially at an early age) is a big deal. We know how to help you achieve that goal.
Whether it be suppressing evidence because of a bad search, making the State prove the drink you possessed or consumed actually fits a narrow statutory definition for “alcohol” or negotiating a resolution that involves no conviction (which typically comes about because of our ability and willingness to take cases to trial), you will be in good hands with us. Don’t think you have to plead guilty to a minor crime. Even misdemeanor convictions carry consequences. The Board Certified* trail attorneys with The Criminal Defense Team can help defend your child’s rights and reputation.
Don’t go through this tricky process alone. Call (317) 687-8326 today for help.
What Is a Minor in Possession (MIP) Offense?
Under state law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol in public in Indiana. If a minor is caught attempting to purchase, consume, or transport alcohol in any form in Indiana, they can face stiff penalties that can follow them throughout their lives.
Under federal law, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act set the national drinking age at 21 in 1984. Any states that didn’t comply with this law when it was enacted risked losing federal funding for vital infrastructure. The law didn’t specifically limit consumption, just the purchase of alcohol by someone underage.
The law was created in response to data from several studies showing that lower drinking ages led to more deaths and motor vehicle accidents for young people. After the 26th Amendment was passed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 in 1971, many states responded by lowering the minimum legal drinking age to match it, arguing that anyone who could vote should be able to legally drink alcohol. This led to more deaths in motor vehicle accidents involving young drivers as they could easily travel from one state with a higher drinking age to one with a lower age and legally buy alcohol. This in turn led to the creation of MADD in the early 1980s, and the passing of the NMDA Act in 1984.
A Minor in Possession is one of the most common criminal offenses in the country for people under the age of 21.
The law limits consumption in public only, and has the following exemptions, though these can vary by state:
- Alcohol used in religious ceremonies
- Consuming alcohol in private clubs or establishments or under the supervision of a parent or guardian
- Alcohol used for medical purposes as long as it’s administered by the medical professional
- Possessing or transporting alcohol during lawful employment, such as a beer distributor
The law defines alcohol as the following:
- Wine of not less than .5 percent alcohol by volume
- Beer, porter, stout, ale, sake, or any similar fermented beverage containing .5 percent or more alcohol by volume
- Distilled spirits, ethyl alcohol, ethanol
“Possession” is defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1984, which states there are three types of common MIP offenses:
- Physical possession: actually holding an unopened or opened alcohol container.
- Internal possession: having consumed an alcoholic beverage.
- Constructive possession: being around alcohol with the intent to drink, for instance, a case of beer in the trunk of a car of a minor.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
There are several good reasons to hire a qualified defense attorney to help fight your MIP charge.
If you or your child was caught with alcohol on a school campus, additional penalties imposed by the school could be added to any penalties imposed by city or state laws. These can be administrative in nature but have the potential to follow you or your child throughout your academic career and cause problems later on. A good attorney can help you fight these penalties and avoid any negative additions to a permanent academic record.
An MIP charge can make for difficulties and obstacles as well. An MIP can be a barrier to employment or an internship, as a record of any arrest would be visible during a background check. In Indiana, MIP offenses can also mean suspension or revocation of a driver’s license, hefty fines, mandatory community service, mandatory rehabilitation programs, or for multiple offenses, even jail time. An MIP offense is not something you want following you around.
A good attorney will work to ensure that an MIP charge doesn’t follow you. Whether it’s finding a hole in the evidence that led to the arrest or dealing with a pushy judge or police officer that tries to convince you that a guilty plea is the best option you have available, a qualified lawyer will protect your rights and keep you from making the situation worse by admitting fault.
Our knowledge of local statutes, case law, and the myriad possible defenses available for an MIP charge will be invaluable to you. We know how to make the law work for our clients instead of against them. We will do the work of investigating your arrest, interviewing witnesses, and gathering evidence to support your case.
Why Choose The Criminal Defense Team to Represent Me?
With over 120 years of combined legal experience, The Criminal Defense Team has the credentials to get the positive outcome you need. We pride ourselves on providing aggressive and compassionate legal counsel for all of our clients, regardless of the charges against them. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and treat you with respect and dignity throughout the process.
We are the best choice for your legal representation because we have something our competitors don’t have: five of the six Certified Criminal Trial Specialists in Indiana. Out of over 15,000 attorneys in Indiana, only six lawyers carry this certification, and five of them work for The Criminal Defense Team. We’ve taken over 1000 cases to trial, including over 400 jury trials. Our trial experience is nearly unmatched in the state, and we can use that experience to help you or your family member avoid a conviction.
We also have three former prosecuting attorneys on staff, which gives us the advantage in fighting against charges of all kinds. Not only can they provide the perspective of a prosecuting attorney while we build your case, the relationships they developed while working as prosecutors enable them to strategically make plea deals or bond agreements on your behalf.
We believe in representing the accused with courage, compassion, curiosity, and creativity, and we will work tirelessly to get you the outcome you need.
Possible Defenses to an MIP Charge
We will do all we can to defend you against an MIP charge. Some of the possible defenses we may employ include the following:
- No alcohol in the container. If we can show that the alcohol container was empty at the time of arrest, we may be able to avoid a conviction.
- A parent or guardian was present. If we can prove that a parent or guardian was nearby at the time of the arrest, we may be able to lower the penalty or dismiss the charge entirely.
- Involuntary intoxication. Proving that the intoxication was forced or coerced under threat of harm or injury can be used as a defense.
- Misidentification of substance. If the arresting law enforcement officer misidentifies the substance as one containing alcohol, we can use this information in your defense.
- Improper arrest. If we can show that the arresting officer solicited incriminating statements from a minor before notifying them of their right to remain silent, this can be used in your defense.
- Legal consumption. We may be able to show that you consumed alcohol in a place where it was legal for someone your age to do so.
MIP Laws and Statutes in Indiana
According to Indiana state law, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to possess, consume, or transport an alcoholic beverage. Violation is classified as a Class C Misdemeanor.
A Class C Misdemeanor carries a fine of up to $500 and a jail sentence of up to 60 days. It may also include mandatory drug or alcohol diversionary programs.
If a minor is caught with alcohol behind the wheel of a vehicle, the penalties are stiffer, as the charge would be elevated to an OWI, or operating while intoxicated charge. Charges include driver’s license suspension and up to a year in jail. Anyone under 18 will have their license suspended for up to 60 days. Anyone over 18 can have their license suspended for up to one year.
Here are some helpful information and statistics regarding MIP charges in Indiana:
- Indiana and Idaho are the only two states that allow people ages 19 or older to be employed at businesses where alcohol is sold, as long as a supervisor over the age of 21 is present at all times.
- Almost 21 percent of people ages 12 to 20 in Indiana have consumed alcohol in the last month, just over the national average.
- Indiana and Georgia are the only two states that do not suspend liquor licenses to businesses that inadvertently sell alcohol to a minor with a false ID.
- Almost 14 percent of people ages 12 to 20 in Indiana admit to binge drinking in the last month.
- Indiana had 20 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2018 where the driver was between ages 12 and 20 and had a blood-alcohol content of .01 percent or higher.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
Don’t let a Minor in Possession Charge affect you or your family’s future. Call The Criminal Defense Team today. We will provide aggressive and tenacious legal counsel and use all our skills and experience to help you beat the charge. The first consultation is absolutely free, and we will tell you about all the legal options available to you, regardless of whether you choose us to defend you. Call (317) 687-8326 today, and get the help you need.