The law is clear on the legal age to drink. New Jersey sets the age at 21 years and anyone under this age is not allowed to purchase, consciously possess and/or consume alcohol except in certain stipulated circumstances. Any of these will be regarded as an offense and attracts various penalties for the minors.
It is therefore goes without saying that it is a criminal offense to purposefully provide alcohol to anyone under that age as well as encouraging them to engage in underage drinking
Offenses associated with furnishing minors with alcohol include:
Purposely offering or serving or availing alcohol to minors or enticing them to drink.
You are exempt from this charge if you are a parent or guardian of the said minor(s) and you are providing them with alcohol as part of a religious observance, rite or celebration. You are also exempt if you give another parent/guardian’s child the alcohol with permission from the said parent or guardian and in their presence.
Note that these exemptions only apply if you and the parent or guardian is above the legal drinking age of 21. Otherwise, it will be regarded as an offense.
Making your property available for the purpose of availing alcohol to minors
If you knowingly allow your property to be used as a place where minors can access alcohol and indulge in underage drinking then you will be charged for furnishing alcohol to a minor. This includes property that you own, rent or manage.
You will also be culpable if you leave the property in care of another person for the purpose of providing alcohol to minors and encouraging underage drinking.
Both of these offenses are categorized under the disorderly person offense but are not considered a criminal offense.
There are several cases where minors have tricked people into selling them alcohol. They have done everything from providing fake driver’s licenses to fake IDs in order to get the alcohol.
In such cases, you will not be held culpable if you explain that you had no reason to doubt the driver’s license and identification cards provided by the minor(s) and that from the minor’s appearance, he/she seemed of legal age to purchase alcohol.
However, if you are found guilty of furnishing a minor with alcohol, under New Jersey Law, you could face up to 6 months in jail along with a $1,000 fine. You will also have a permanent criminal charge placed on your record which can only be expunged after five years and even then only if there are no other criminal convictions prior to or subsequent to this charge. This stain on your record will affect the kind of employment and housing that you can get, and the general quality of your life.
Life can get pretty complicated if you are found guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors. It is therefore important to get the most experienced lawyers in the business to make sure that you are fairly represented and that justice is truly done. At Zapicchi & Liller, we can help you with that and so much more. So give us a call and get a consultation today.