This article deals with the crime of minor in possession of alcohol in Memphis, Tennessee, the consequences, and what to do if you are charged. Please check your local laws if you are outside Tennessee, as your laws may be different. In Tennessee it is against the law for minors (anyone under 21) to buy, attempt to buy, or possess alcoholic beverages. The penalties for violation of the law can include one or more of the following: jail time, probation, fines, and loss of driver's license. It could also result in a permanent conviction on the minor's record.
Where I practice in the Memphis area, many jurisdictions are cracking down on minors in possession of alcohol. Many of the area courts--including downtown, Collierville, Bartlett, and Germantown--will prosecute minors. Take Collierville, for instance, which is a suburb of Memphis. If a group of kids under 21 throw a house party in Collierville where there is alcohol, and the police raid the party, it is a good possibility that everyone inside will be charged with being in possession of alcohol-even those who weren't even drinking. In any of the Memphis jurisdictions there can also be penalties for purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol by minors, and for using a fake or false id to make such a purchase.
Despite the stiff penalties, Memphis-area courts usually offer alternative sentences such as community service or alcohol safety classes, with the chance to have the charge dismissed and the entire record of the case expunged. Bartlett, Germantown, Collierville and downtown Memphis have all been known to dispose of cases this way. Expungement is the process of having all public records of the case destroyed. It requires an order signed by the judge and usually takes anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to process. Expungment is important because this removes the charge from the minor's record, insuring that it will not show up in job interviews or college applications. Thus, it is of utmost importance to get a dismissal of the charge and avoid a guilty plea. Should a minor lose their driver's license for unlawful purchase or possession of alcohol in Memphis, they may apply to have a restricted driver's license. A restricted license allows them to drive only for certain purposes such as to work or school. Because of the numerous penalties and consequences of this charge, a Memphis minor in possession attorney should be consulted.