Absolutely! If nothing else, it will give you peace of mind that your son's case is being handled by an experience professional who will navigate you through the process and minimize the damage. Your son will probably be able to have it deferred so that it won't appear on his public record and may not effective educational opportunities in the future. Seek out an attorney in your area with experience handling MIPs.
I apologize for the lawyer who didn't read your question closely enough to realize that this is about your daughter. I am going to rephrase your question to include the following: "I can't afford a lawyer for my daughter and I would have to beg/borrow/steal in order to pay a retainer, which I only want to do if it is absolutely necessary." In such a case, you can probably go with your daughter to the pretrial and see what offer they make. They may just offer her a stay-out-of-trouble-and-this-won't--go-on-your-record type deal. If they don't offer that, you can ask the judge to adjourn the pretrial and do what you need to do to get a lawyer. If your case is in the Rochester Court, forget what I said -- they are very tough there and you need a lawyer badly.
Most courts have diversion programs for a first MIP. Your daughter would be "on probation" for about 6 months to a year, depending on the Court. She would be subject to random drug tests, and probably have to have alcohol education classes. It is worth it, as even one MIP can effect her in the future. She can't go to jail for her first MIP; however, drinking at her age, while not unheard of, can escalate to more crimes, drinking and driving, having liquor in a car, even if it is not her liquor, she can be charged.
If you can't afford an attorney, try for a court appointed attorney. They usually do them on a contract level. You don't get special attention, but they usually know the ins and outs of the system, and how the Judge will react.
YES!!! The MIP statute has been found unconstitutional in certain situations and this law is still on the books. Call an attorney today to discuss your options.
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Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship has been established. Please contact an attorney about your legal rights. This answer is for educational purposes only.