Stacey M. Washington, Attorney and CounselorAttorney and Counselor
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Is Your Minor In Possession?

A parent's worst nightmare - you drop your child off at the UM Ann Arbor or EMU Ypsilanti college freshman dorm and a few weeks later you get a nervous call. Unfortunately, it's not just a case of the homesick blues. Your child has just been charged with being a Minor in Possession of alcohol. But, "Mom/Dad, everybody's doing it!" "So and So asked me to hold his cup?" What now?

Not only is the minor facing a possible misdemeanor conviction but the Michigan Secretary of State has authority to suspend the minor's driver's license for second and third convictions. Non-Michigan residents may also be subject to driver's license sanctions in their home state.

Universities, police, prosecutors and judges take the use/possession of alcohol by minors very seriously. For good reason. I've had parents tell me that they received calls from a local hospital saying their passed out, injured child was dropped off by friends at the emergency room. Some minors are so intoxicated that they run from or assault police officers leading to a possible felony charge of assaulting, resisting or obstructing a police officer. What starts as college partying can lead to serious alcohol abuse or addiction.

A minor in possession charge or conviction can have many other unpleasant and far reaching consequences. For example, the minor may be evicted from the dorm and/or suspended from school. Misdemeanor convictions can impede one's ability to obtain an internship, job or graduate school acceptance. Dreams of medical school can be shattered with one conviction.

While parties with alcohol may be common, minors should be educated about the consequences of drinking. Although many college students represent themselves after a first offense, self-representation is not always a wise decision. Do they really understand their legal rights or what the judge has ordered? Are they still succumbing to peer pressure and risking multiple criminal convictions as a result of violating court ordered conditions? An experienced criminal defense attorney is a wise investment in both the present and future.

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