Our client, age 32, worked part-time making music videos and part-time in his friend’s liquor store near his home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, liquor sales went up and his friend’s liquor store needed extra help in all areas of the store.
One day in late December 2020, our client was working the cash register when the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) decided to test this particular liquor store on its readiness to sell alcohol to minors. ABC then had an underage “decoy” go into the store and select a three-pack of “tall boy” Budweiser cans (25 ounces) to buy. It was about three in the afternoon and business was brisk.
The decoy brought the three-pack to the cash register and our client rang up the purchase and accepted a ten-dollar bill from the decoy. Our client did not request to see any identification to verify the buyer was 21 or older. The decoy then left the store holding the beer and a receipt.
Seconds later, an ABC officer with a badge entered the store, explained that the person who just bought the beer was under age 21, returned the beer and issued our client a ticket for violation of Business & Professions Code § 25658(a), furnishing alcohol to a minor. Our client signed a promise to appear in the Downey Superior Court in about two years. The ticket had “m” circled, indicating the offense was a misdemeanor.
The client looked up the offense on the Internet and called Greg Hill & Associates. Greg and the client then discussed the ticket and how it might be resolved.
The client was nervous about the judge and / or prosecutor being tough on him because he had two prior convictions for DUI from 2014 and 2017, as well as one conviction for driving on a suspended license due to a conviction for DUI (Vehicle Code § 14601.2). In other words, he seemed to have a hard time following the law, particularly involving alcohol.
Greg then discussed judicial diversion, a new program just beginning in 2021, explaining that it permitted a defendant facing almost any misdemeanor charge (exceptions being domestic violence (either Penal Code § 273.5 or § 243(e)(1)), stalking (Penal Code § 646.9) and any sex offense requiring registration under Penal Code § 290), to ask the judge to suspend proceeding for a period of up to two years to allow defendant to complete a program of classes, community service, therapy, etc., and pay restitution, if applicable to the case. If the client successfully completed the judge’s terms of diversion, the case would be dismissed and ordered sealed, erasing any entry on defendant’s criminal history that he or she even faced such a case.
Greg explained to the client that his case for furnishing alcohol to a minor was eligible for judicial diversion, but that the judge did have discretion to deny such an opportunity for a dismissal.
Greg recommended that the client try to impress the judge by taking an online, free class called Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) offered by the State of California Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC), the organization that ticketed him. The program, once completed, gave him a nice certificate of completion and Greg explained, he would take it to court to show the prosecutor in negotiating terms of judicial diversion before requesting this from the judge. Greg also recommended that the client attend five or more, perhaps ten, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
The client then took and completed the LEAD program and gave Greg his certificate of completion. He also attended one AA meeting, but no more.
On the day of the arraignment, Greg went to the Downey Superior Court while the client stayed home. Greg showed the LEAD certificate of completion to the young district attorney, as well as the client’s proof of attending one AA meeting.
Surprisingly, the DA then offered to just dismiss the case, which was more than Greg anticipated.
The case was then called and the young DA asked the judge to dismiss the case under Penal Code § 1385, “in the interests of justice.” The judge granted the motion, dismissing the case.
Greg shared the news with the client, who was very happy with this good news.
For more information about furnishing alcohol to a minor, please click on the following articles: