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Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption of Alcohol or Drugs

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In Arizona, if you are under 21 years old, possessing alcohol can result in a minor in possession charge, regardless of whether the container is open or closed.

The law does not require proof of consumption, only the presence of alcohol on the person. This means that even holding a liquor bottle or a glass of wine for someone else can lead to a minor in possession charge.

ARS 4-244(9) prohibits individuals under 21 years old from having, buying, receiving, or drinking alcohol.

Unfortunately, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson have high rates of criminal offenses involving minors in possession.

In Arizona, minors charged with possession or consumption of alcohol face significant legal repercussions under ARS 4-244(9). The law distinguishes between actual and constructive possession, the latter being harder to prove. Juvenile possession can be either joint or sole, with joint possession being more difficult to establish due to reasonable doubt considerations.

Offenses related to underage drinking can also include contributing to the delinquency of a minor, DUI, and public consumption of alcohol, each with its own governing statute and penalties. Penalties for a minor in possession (MIP) may include fines, probation, community service, and alcohol treatment, along with potential driving privilege suspension. A charge will lead to a Class 1 misdemeanor on one’s criminal history, which could impact future educational and employment opportunities. Given the complexities and potential long-term consequences, securing experienced legal representation is crucial.


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Arizona Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption of Alcohol or Drugs



Explaining Cases Involving Minor In Possession or Minor in Consumption Charges

There are many forms of possession recognized by Arizona law.

The actual form of possession occurs when alcohol is in a person’s immediate control. This control involves alcohol being in your hands, bag, or clothing.

A form of possession known as constructive possession is when control is intentional and is carried out solely or with others involved.

The constructive possession theory suggests that alcohol may be located within a car, home, restaurant, dorm, or bar. Although a possession charge could be made in this sense, the attempt to prove it may be more difficult.

Juvenile possession is either joint or sole. Joint possession is not easily proven since reasonable doubt could exist. Sole possession refers to a single person committing the crime.

A minor in possession is guilty when they take part in consuming alcohol through either buying or possessing it while being under 21 years of age.

Under law ARS 4-244(9) refers to alcohol as a spirituous liquor and includes the following:

  • Ale
  • Gin
  • Rum
  • Brandy
  • Porter
  • Wine
  • Whiskey
  • Tequila

Having an offense involving juvenile possession may also be known as a MIP. When the minor in possession law is broken by drinking alcohol, they are charged with minor consumption.

It is essential to understand that if the possession is legal in nature, then a minor consumption charge cannot be made.

drinking while drinking

Other crimes that exist, which are related to minor in possession include and underage drinking include:

  • Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor
  • DUI
  • Public Consumption of alcohol

Arizona Law Governing Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor Leading to Minor in Consumption

Under the contributing to the delinquency of a minor law, it is a crime for a person to furnish, encourage, or cause a delinquency in a child that will lead to a minor in consumption violation.

The law describes delinquency as being the act of causing injury to a child’s health and well-being.

Although the minor in possession law governs an age below 21, the contributing law governs an age below 18.

Arizona Law Governing DUI

Individuals can face a DUI charge if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance that may result in physical impairment.

This impairment may be caused by the following:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Vapors

When a minor has been caught with possession and gets behind the wheel of an automobile, then they will have two charges against them.

Arizona Law Governing Public Consumption of Alcohol

The public consumption of alcohol law (ARS 4-244) stipulates a crime when alcohol is consumed at a gathering, public area, or a thoroughfare.

This law is much broader and governs all individuals regardless of age.

Penalties Due To Underage Drinking Charges

Understanding the penalties associated with underage drinking is essential. When you are familiar with the law governing underage drinking charges, then it will hopefully make the minor think twice before thinking of possessing alcohol in the first place.

To begin with, if a minor is charged with a minor in possession charge, they will have a class 1 misdemeanor on their criminal history report.

An offense against ARS 4-244 is a misdemeanor with a possible jail sentence of no more than 180 days, a fine close to $5,000, or probation for three years.

If the offender is a first-timer, they will likely be given fines, probation, community service, and alcohol treatment.

Besides the above penalties, other penalties that could be imposed include:

  • Counseling
  • Restitution
  • Suspended driving privileges

It is important to note that if driving privileges are suspended, the suspension could be for up to 180 days if it is a first offense.

If there is fear of these penalties being brought up, you need to contact an experienced attorney for representation. This way, your rights are maintained while receiving as minimal a penalty as possible.

consequences of dui

Consequences May Affect Your Future

Having a minor in possession charge in Arizona is a permanent part of your record.

Because of that, it may affect applications that you submit for university acceptance, job applications, and many other things that may require a background check.

It is good to be aware that colleges and other entities may have specific regulations and rules governing the use of alcohol.



Extenuating Circumstances Regarding Minor in Possession of Alcohol Arizona

The minor in possession of alcohol Arizona law recognize extenuating circumstances.

These circumstances involve the use of alcohol prescribed by a doctor or if a person’s religion calls for it.

When alcohol is used for these purposes, the child’s safety and health cannot be jeopardized.



Courts Overseeing MIP Cases

In Arizona, most cases involving juvenile possession come from Scottsdale, Tempe, and ASU.

When a minor in possession occurs in Scottsdale, the City Court is where the citation is filed. Tempe minor in possession citations is handled through the Tempe Municipal Court.

For Arizona State University, the minor in possession citations are filed through one of two court locations, either the Kyrene Justice Court or the University Lakes Justice Court. These justice courts can be found in Chandler at the San Tan Regional Court Center.

Does a MIP Involve a Jury Trial?

When juvenile possession takes place, there is no jury trial involved.

The case is handled by a judge who oversees the case. Although the maximum amount of jail time could be 180 days, the courts do not warrant that amount of time as being justified for a trial by jury.


Frequent Minor in Possession Defenses Used in Court

There are many different defenses against a minor in possession charge.

Below are the most frequently used defenses:


A Violation of Constitutional Rights

Because the police are government officials, their conduct must remain reasonable. If not, then a constitutional violation will take place.

When a clear violation is made, then the citation can easily be overturned by a judge and dismissed.

Some examples of violations involve violations of Miranda Rights, no probable cause, statements that are coerced, and detainment.


Situations That Are Statutory in Nature

There are a couple of situations where a legitimate use of alcohol is warranted.

These situations include religious and medicinal purposes.


No Knowledge of Possession

Having no knowledge of possessing alcohol means there is no criminal intent.

This is where it must be proven that there was knowledge of alcohol.


Alcohol Does Not Belong To The Accused

If more than one individual is in the presence of alcohol, then knowing who it belongs to will be difficult.


Smelling Alcohol on a Person

When alcohol can be smelled, it does not prove or indicate possession. The smell can only lead to explanations.



Obtaining a confession is not grounds for a charge of a minor in possession.

This is because there must be evidence to corroborate the fact.


Being Present Among Alcohol

When a minor is within an establishment that sells alcohol, it does not mean they are in possession. 

The evidence must be direct and show a person having control of alcohol.


MIP Charge in Arizona

In conclusion, a Minor in Possession charge (MIP) in Arizona is a serious offense that can have significant consequences for those convicted.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol, and law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce this law rigorously.

If a person is charged with MIP, they could face fines, community service, mandatory alcohol education classes, and potentially even jail time. Additionally, a conviction for MIP could result in a criminal record, which could have long-lasting consequences for a person’s future educational and employment opportunities.

Therefore, if you or someone you know has been charged with MIP in Arizona, it is essential to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney at CHM Law who can help navigate the legal system and work to mitigate the potential consequences of the charge.

With the right legal representation, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or even dismissed, allowing the individual to move forward with their life with minimal disruption.

There are Defenses to a MIP Charge With the Help of an Attorney

A Minor in Possession (MIP) charge can have serious consequences for underage individuals who are caught possessing alcohol or drugs.

In addition to legal penalties such as fines and community service. Furthermore, a MIP on a minor’s record can also make it more difficult for them to obtain future employment or educational opportunities. Additionally, a MIP can strain relationships with family and friends and damage the minor’s reputation within their community.

Therefore, it is important for minors to understand the serious consequences of MIP charges and to make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol and drug use.

CHM Law has years of experience in underage drinking charges and can provide you with the guidance you need to protect your rights and fight your charges.

With the help of CHM Law, you can minimize the impact of your charges and even work towards dismissing the charges completely.

Call us at (602) 825-2500 if you have been caught underage drinking, and we’ll get started immediately on putting together a winning defense.


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