Every year in South Dakota, without fail, teenagers find themselves in positions where alcohol and drugs are readily available to them. Whether attending parties or hanging out with friends, drinking and doing drugs is a temptation, and many find themselves giving in to it. As alcohol and drugs contribute to the deaths of numerous teens a year in the United States, this is behavior lawmakers or law enforcement officials would like to see end.
To deter teenagers from drinking before they are of legal age to do so, or doing drugs, if caught with or impaired by either type of substance, they may face an and charge with minor in possession. What are the consequences associated with such a charge?
Minor in possession laws vary by state. If arrested on this charge in South Dakota, some teenagers may find themselves facing fines, in juvenile detention, ordered to community service, or required to take drug and alcohol safety courses. Along with these consequences, those who hold driver’s licenses may lose their driving privileges, at least temporarily.
How to fight an MIP charge?
Various defense strategies may work when charged with minor in possession. A few defense options include:
- Claiming no alcohol was consumed or in the container
- Claiming religious exemption
- Claiming alcohol was legally consumed — due to parent presence or other acceptable reason
Typically, the burden of proof lies with the prosecuting attorney in criminal cases. However, with minor in possession charges, it is the defendant that may have to prove their case — particularly when utilizing any of the defense strategies listed above. That may be difficult, but not impossible.
Juvenile court is different
Juvenile court is not the same as criminal court. The way to approach criminal charges may be different, but the ability for minors to defend themselves remains the same. While not required, they may have legal counsel on their side, helping them through juvenile proceedings.
Having a teen charged with minor in possession, regardless if it involved drugs or alcohol, can be extremely stressful and frightening for parents. Know that the goal with kids is rehabilitation, not punishment, if the court ultimately finds them guilty of the crime. With assistance, it may be possible to have the charges dismissed or, at least, seek to minimize any consequences.