December 1, 2022
As a parent, St. Paddy’s Day doesn’t necessarily bring the same excitement that it used to. Teens and college kids throughout the country use the day as an excuse to wear green, drink loads of beer, and try to feel the “Luck of the Irish.” Parents, in contrast, get to worry about their kids making stupid decisions.
For most kids, the holiday passes largely without incident. Unfortunately, some underage kids in Colorado see their luck run out when the police show up to their party, and typically parents are the ones who have to clean up the mess.
This is something that is particularly common on college campuses. University police and officials know that students want to have fun on St. Patrick’s Day, but they’re also responsible for keeping things safe.
Some even issue warnings to students about the law and how they’re going to handle enforcement. That’s exactly what CU Boulder did in 2017, with the school website highlighting how authorities pledged to step up law enforcement activity throughout the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Law enforcement even encouraged students to register parties to keep track of what was going on around campus and keep students safe.
Unfortunately, things sometimes get out of hand at these types of parties, and when that happens law enforcement may feel obliged to step in.
Maybe too much noise, injuries, or an unregistered party brought the police right to your teen’s door. If they suspect or witnessed your teen consuming unlawful controlled substances… well, you already know what happened next.
What Is a Minor in Possession (MIP) Charge in Colorado?
If law enforcement sees a minor physically possessing drugs or alcohol, they might issue a Minor in Possession charge. Additionally – and this is really important to know – teens may also face these charges if they previously ingested the alcohol or drugs and are showing obvious signs or test positive.
That’s right – even if the police don’t see them holding a bottle of beer or a joint, they may still be charged and later found guilty of possession.
What If Your Colorado Teen Didn’t Buy the Alcohol or Drugs?
At college parties, it’s fairly common for drinks and joints to get passed from student to student. Even if a 22-year-old bought the marijuana or alcohol that got your teen in trouble, your teen will still have to face the consequences. Adults who are caught serving or selling drugs or alcohol to minors may have to face criminal charges themselves.
These charges may not seem so serious at first, but penalties can add up if your teen doesn’t learn their lesson the first time.
Penalties for MIP Convictions in Colorado
- Penalties for a first offense include $250 in fines and the loss of your teen’s driver’s license for up to three months.
- Penalties for a second offense include up to $500 in fines and the loss of your teen’s driver’s license for up to six months.
After a third offense, your teen will have to face class 2 misdemeanor charges. That means the possibility of a year without their driver’s license and/or up to a year in jail. Penalties for class 2 misdemeanor charges also include up to $1,000 in fines.
Regardless of your teen’s prior criminal record, they may also have to attend an alcohol education program or complete 24 hours of community service. Alcohol education programs and assessment come with costs – and the police certainly won’t cover them.
So, What’s Next If Your Colorado Teen Is Facing Charges?
Minor in Possession charges have consequences beyond fines or a driver’s license suspension. Without a driver’s license, your teen could have a hard time holding down a job. In fact, a mark on their criminal record could prevent them from getting a job in the first place.
Fighting against a MIP charge is fighting for your child’s future – and the time to start is now. The first thing you should do is reach out to an attorney who knows how to fight these types of charges. Not all lawyers have experience working with juveniles and MIP charges – ask attorneys about their experience before you move forward.
Minor in Possession charges are different than traditional criminal cases – and luckily, they are often fairly easy to contest. If your teen has a clean criminal record, your lawyer may even be able to work with the judge or prosecutor and come up with a compromise that lets your teen keep their license.
Once the case has been settled, your work isn’t over yet. Even if your teen was not found guilty, they will still have the charge on their criminal record. In order to “hide” the record from employers, admissions offices, and landlords, you will need to apply for expungement. A criminal defense attorney can also help you through this process.
Don’t let one wild St. Patrick’s Day prevent your teen from getting the jobs they want and the life they deserve. Start working to contest and expunge their MIP charge today.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.