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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Venice, Underage Possession of Alcohol, Dismissed at Trial

Our client, age 17 and a college freshman at UCLA, was charged with one misdemeanor count of violating California Business & Professions Code § 25662(a), possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21.
In a Nutshell:  Venice Beach and Santa Monica Superior court - possession of alcohol by one under 21 (Business and Professions Code § 25662), case dismissed at trial.
He was arrested on Venice Beach in the early evening hours as he was walking along the boardwalk there with an open 32-ounce bottle of Corona in his hand.  He was headed toward meeting some friends from UCLA further up the beach.
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Our client’s big concern in this case was the statutory provision that a conviction for this offense would lead to a one-year suspension in his driving privileges, which would interfere with his college classes.

Accordingly, he hired Greg Hill & Associates to take all steps to negotiate a disposition to avoid such a license suspension.  Greg discussed the case with the client’s father and the client.  Greg explained that it might be possible, depending upon the prosecutor, to resolve the case as an infraction for trespassing (Penal Code § 602) or disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(2) – making a loud sound that annoys others) so as to avoid the driver’s license suspension.

To position our client as best we could, Greg Hill requested that our client assemble a “Good Guy” packet with all his awards and letters of commendation for the last four years (including his significant volunteer work at his temple), as well as a short essay on the effects of alcohol and why alcohol should be restricted from those under the legal age.

The client did all his “homework” for the court appearance and appeared in a suit and tie with Greg (the informed reader may wonder why such a juvenile case was referred to regular, adult court in Santa Monica, which we were puzzled with, too, as now (in 2019), cases such as these are referred to the juvenile traffic court in Van Nuys).

We were ready, and optimistic, as a similar approach had worked for one of Greg’s prior clients two years prior in the same courthouse.

As luck often works, when one is most prepared to fight, the fight does not even begin.  The Los Angeles City Attorney handling the case expressed regrets as the police officer who issued the citation did not appear and the judge dismissed the case.

The client was very happy, as was his family, as the client avoided a disruption in his education and was able to keep alive his dreams of college degree from UCLA.  He was also able to avoid a misdemeanor conviction on his record, which certainly would have complicated his job search for summer work, internships and work after graduation.

Such a misdemeanor could have made graduation impossible as well.  The contract for a student loan often specifies that if the borrower is convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor, the full balance of the loan is owed immediately (the borrower fears the borrower may be incarcerated and unable to pay – or unwilling to pay).  This provision is seldom enforced or invoked by the loan provider, but it does exist and with background checks being easier and easier to perform with Livescan, having this concern erased also helped ease our client’s anxiety.

It merits mention that this case arose in 2012, well before AB 2124 came into effect on January 1, 2015.  AB 2124 would have been an alternative way to resolve this case had it arisen in 2015, but before AB 2124 ended (“sun-setted”) on January 1, 2018.  Assembly Bill 2124, provided for at Penal Code § 1001.94 to 1001.98, was a pilot program available only in Los Angeles County, wherein the judge could order diversion for certain low-level offenders with no prior convictions.  Under the program, the judge could, over the prosecutor’s objection, order certain terms and conditions of court-ordered diversion, which if completed, allowed the defendant to “earn a dismissal.”

We mention this because it is always wise to consider diversion programs, although some may come and go such as AB 2124.
 
AB 2124 was not available to those accused of domestic violence, DUI or certain sex offenses, but it was generally available for most other offenses, such as underage possession of alcohol.

For more information about the issues in this case summary, click on the following articles:

  1. Minor in Possession of Alcohol - What Happens?

  2. What Is a “Trial Tax?”

  3. Should I Waive a Jury Trial and Instead Have a Bench Trial?

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