I was stopped by the police at 1:15 Sunday morning and had an open beer in my coat (not the best idea, admittedly). A police car pulled up to a stop sign and as I walked by a police officer whistled at me. He asked, "What's in your coat?" I said, "Excuse me, officer?" and he told me to take out whatever was in my coat. I took out the half empty beer can and he asked me whether I thought he was an idiot or not. I replied, "No, sir." And he asked for my age, I told him I was 20 and then he asked for my I.D. so I gave it to him. He then gave it to his partner and told me to sit on the curb. I sat on the curb for a half hour and he didn't say a word to me the entire time. Campus Safety came by, because this was off campus and he gave me my I.D. and the citation w/o a word. C.S. drove me home.
The citation commonly referred to as "underage drinking" encompasses both the consumption and/or possession of an alcoholic beverage. The situation you find yourself in can have severe consequences such as a summary alcohol conviction, monetary consequences, and a 90 day license suspension. In York, with the District Justices and police officers there are ways to combat some or all of these penalties. It would be wise for you to hire a York criminal defense attorney who can ensure the citation consequences are mitigated as much as possible depending on the District Judge you find yourself in front of and also to effect those conversations with the police officer involved. This can be done through different programs and also negotiating a reduction/alteration of the charge. Further, you may have a defense that needs presented at a summary trial. Contact a York defense attorney.
T.L. Kearney, Esq.
York Criminal Defense Attorney
160 E. Market Street
York, PA 17401
Let me add to the prior answers by emphasizing that the key to avoiding a conviction under these circumstances is to know what alternative programs the specific District Justice offers and the nuances of how to gain acceptance into the program. In my experience, this is usually better than trying to prevail at a hearing, especially where the DJs near our college campuses deal with tons of underage cases.
I agree with the remarks of my learned colleagues; you would do well to at least consult with one or more attorneys who practice in your county to see what your options may be. Most here offer free consultations, so take advantage of that to speak privately and confidentially with one or more. With respect to the question posed in your additional information, it sounds like your encounter with police, and in particular, the manner in which the alcohol was discovered was a violation of your rights that can be explored in greater detail when you meet with legal counsel. Good luck.
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