Columbia, MO Minor in Possession Lawyer
In the state of Missouri, if anyone under the age of 21 is caught purchasing, attempting to purchase, or has alcohol in their possession, they can be charged with what’s known as a “minor in possession” or “MIP” conviction. Missouri minors who are not physically in possession of alcohol but still have a detectable blood alcohol content (B.A.C.) of more than two-hundredths of one percent can also be charged. Even taking a single drink can cause an officer to believe you are in possession.
The court of law comes down very severely on minors who have been convicted of being in possession of alcohol. MIP charges are considered misdemeanors, and for the first offense, you can be given a 30-day driver’s license suspension. For a second offense, it becomes a 90-day license suspension. For three or more offenses, minors may see their license revoked for an entire year or more. No matter the offense, minors are also subject to heavy fines and even imprisonment of up to one year.
After you are convicted of a misdemeanor, unless you’re able to get the MIP conviction removed or expunged from your record, that misdemeanor will always remain on your criminal record, potentially affecting your ability to find work, attend college, receive scholarships, and more. A criminal record is likely to haunt you for the rest of your life unless the right actions are taken immediately following the conviction.
Facts About Minor-in-Possession Laws
- Missouri has an “abuse and lose” law which means that you may lose your license if you are under the age of twenty-one (21) and are found guilty of driving while also in possession of alcohol or while using alcohol. The suspensions can range depending on your age and on the number of prior convictions you have involving the “abuse and lose” law.
- A person who has a minor in possession conviction on his/her record can apply to the court to have that conviction expunged after he/she turns twenty-two (22) and if certain conditions are met. One of the major conditions requires that you have no additional alcohol-related offense convictions on your record.
- If an officer believes you are visibly intoxicated, then the officer can stop you and ask you for your name and for identification. However, you do not have to agree to the portable breath test the officer may attempt to administer. You also have the right to remain silent if the officer interrogates you following an arrest. You should always invoke your constitutional rights.
Legal Options Are Available
Contrary to what you may believe, if you’re a minor who was caught in possession of alcohol for whatever reason, you do have legal options. Every American citizen has a right to a civil trial when they are charged with a misdemeanor. Minors aren’t an exception to this rule.
If you’re charged with an MIP conviction, make sure to say nothing that may harm your chances of a fair trial later on. Don’t admit to any guilt and ask to speak to a lawyer immediately. If you contact a Columbia, MO minor in possession lawyer quickly enough, it’s possible to receive a lighter sentence or even have the misdemeanor expunged from your record entirely.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to look at the evidence and tell you what legal options you have. There is always hope. Sometimes, police officers come down too harshly on minors and treat them unfairly. Other times, breathalyzer results can be improperly read or handled. Situations can also be easily misunderstood during an MIP conviction. If you have no prior criminal record and this is your first offense, the court may find it easier to see your side.
During this time, you’ll also want to contact any witnesses you were with or who saw the conviction happen. If these witnesses are willing to speak on your behalf in a positive manner, your attorney can prepare a testimony that will help the court make a decision in your favor. Sometimes, all it takes is solid evidence and a believable testimony.
Locate a Columbia, MO Minor in Possession Lawyer You Can Trust
With the right legal help, your misdemeanor can disappear from your record or become significantly less severe. This is your future on the line. You deserve to invest everything you can into ensuring you can achieve your dreams and don’t have a criminal record hovering above your head.
Mike Campbell, criminal defense attorney and Columbia, MO minor in possession lawyer, will do everything in his power to protect your criminal record from becoming ruined. Contact our offices to learn more or receive a free case consultation.