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Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Under Washington law, it is a gross misdemeanor to furnish alcohol to a minor, and the charge is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. "Furnishing" can be literally giving alcohol to a minor, but the law provides that a person is also guilty even if they merely permit alcohol to be consumed on their premises. (This also applies to motor vehicles.) Under Washington law, a person does not have to be over 21 to commit this offense, and our firm has handled several cases where 18 or 19-year-olds have been charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor.undefined

College parties

Many of the cases that we handle involve college parties. At such parties, there are many students under 21 and also many students over 21. These parties are a typical part of a young person's college experience, but once they attract the attention of law enforcement, charges can result. It the alcohol is consumed out of bottles and cans it can be hard for prosecutors to prove exactly where the alcohol came from. With kegs on site things are a bit more clear cut. However, prosecutors often will base a charge on the idea that the tenants of the apartment tolerated alcohol to be consumed at their place. With a hundred or more party goers all getting drunk, these sort of charges can be hard to fight. That said, it can be hard to prove exactly which roommate it was that hosted the party. Jurors typically will give young people the benefit of the doubt in such cases.

Tavern cases

In some cases, the defendant is a bartender or a store clerk. Employees engaged in serving or selling alcohol sometimes get charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor when they slip up and fail to ask for ID. The liquor commission will sometimes run sting operations where they will send in 18-year-olds to attempt to buy alcohol at stores. This cannot only result in criminal charges but also the loss of a person's job.

Alcohol Use with Parents Present

It is legal to give alcohol to your own children as long as you are not in public and your children do not thereafter go out in public. There is really no age limit on this, and this rule is not limited to beer and wine. However if the well-being of the child is endangered, Child Protective Services could get involved. The law only allows alcohol to be given to one's own children. Parents cannot provide alcohol to their children's friends unless their parents are also present. This law does not apply in restaurants or taverns. Additionally, if the parent gives alcohol to a minor, the minor cannot get in trouble for MIP.

If you have questions about your criminal charge, feel free to call our office to set up a consultation.