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What to expect in court for underage drinking citation?

Raleigh, NC |

Hi, I recently received a citation that states "the officer has probable cause to believe that you did unlawfully and willfully consume an alcoholic beverage while being 20 years of age". (G.S. 18B-302(B)(3)). They approached me while I had a cup in my hand and I told them that their was alcohol in the cup but they did not breathalyze me. Do you think I could fight this? Also if not do you think I would be better off hiring a lawyer or just paying the court costs and whatever other costs there are? (I'm a college student so I'm looking for the cheapest option to get it off my record) Also this is my first offense! Thanks!

Attorney Answers 3

  1. It sounds like it would be a tough case to fight; the state would have to prove that you consumed alcohol while being underage but if you had an odor of alcohol from your breath and were holding a cup of booze then I don't know what your defense would be. In most jurisdictions the DA will work with a first-time defendant charged with something like this. You can either hire a lawyer or not. If you go with an attorney then they will likely go to court for you and be able to negotiate you a favorable deal which I would guess will result in the dismissal of the charges. If you prefer to handle it yourself then you will have to negotiate with the DA directly. Perhaps if you did this you might inquire if they would let you perform some community service in exchange for dropping the ticket? Regarding your costs, they would vary significantly depending on how your case is resolved. Sometimes the cost of the lawyer is balanced by the savings on court costs, so that is something to consider also. In the end my advice would be to at least consult with a local attorney--most offer free consultations so it costs you nothing to at least learn more about your options.

    No answer to these questions is intended to, nor does it, create an attorney-client relationship. There is no substitute for an actual conversation with a licensed attorney about the particular facts and circumstances of your case.

  2. Hire a lawyer. You dont want a misdemeanor conviction on your record. Depending on the county's procedure for these types of tickets, a lawyer might be able to get a deal worked out that would involve no conviction.

  3. Hire an attorney. The minimal expense now far outweighs the potential lost income from a criminal record. If you end up in the first offender program after hiring an attorney, the attorney will help ensure successful completion of the program.

    As it is your first offense, you have several options and should be able to keep a clean record. Wake County defaults to the first offender program in which you can earn a dismissal. An attorney may be able to obtain a dismissal without using the first offender program, thus preserving the option for a future mistake should one happen.

    Whatever you do, do not just plead guilty and pay costs and fines. It is a criminal charge.

    These comments, based on limited information, are not intended as legal advice, and are not to be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice consult with an attorney to get a thorough review of the charges.

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