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Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Arizona Revised Statute 4-241 prohibits businesses like liquor stores and bars from selling or furnishing alcohol to individuals under 21. It also prohibits minors from drinking or buying alcohol from these businesses. The crime is a misdemeanor with penalties affecting your life, including future employment opportunities and a criminal history. Time is of the essence when facing such criminal charges. We at Phoenix Criminal Attorney can start building your case defense immediately after you contact our office by collecting and analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses, and developing the most compelling case defense. We understand that legal proceedings can be emotionally draining and overwhelming, so we have prepared this article to delve into the legal definition of this statute, the criminal case process, and how to seal your criminal record.

Defining Furnishing Alcohol to A Minor

Arizona Revised Statute 4-241 makes it an offense for a bar, liquor store, or similar establishment to give or sell alcohol or liquor to a child. The Arizona law also prohibits anyone below 21 from buying or drinking liquor at those business premises.

A business planning to provide or sell liquor must file a license application with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. The business becomes a licensed premises, licensee, or licensed establishment if the authority grants a license. An individual working for a licensed alcohol establishment is a licensee’s employee.

An unlicensed establishment is a premises not allowed by the Arizona Alcohol Board to sell alcohol or deliver spirituous liquor.

Assuming a license holder or their employee suspects that a person below 21 is attempting to procure, buy, or order liquor or access a licensed premises. In that case, a licensee or their employee should do the following:

  • Request the person’s identification and examine the document to ascertain if it is current and valid.
  • Ascertain the accused’s age by looking at the birth date outlined on the I.D.
  • Inspect the individual's I.D. photo and ensure the photo matches their appearance.

If, upon performing the identification procedure, the licensee or their worker has reason to believe that the person is below 21, the statute states that furnishing or selling liquor to that particular individual is an offense.

The following are considered valid identifications:

  • A current Identification card
  • Driver’s license
  • Armed Forces I.D

Legal Penalties of Violations of ARS 4-241

Violating Arizona Revised Statutes 4-241 is a misdemeanor.

The violation becomes an Arizona Class 1 misdemeanor if:

  • A minor attempts to obtain or purchase liquor from a license
  • A license holder or their worker knowingly sells alcoholic beverages to a juvenile

An Arizona Class 1 misdemeanor carries the punishment as follows:

  • A six-month sentence in county jail
  • A fine not exceeding $2,500

Upon conviction of this crime, you face a driver’s license suspension and all listed penalties.

It is an Arizona Class 3 misdemeanor for underage minors to solicit or request other individuals to give them alcohol. The crime carries a punishment of:

  • A prison sentence of a maximum of one month
  • A fine not exceeding $500

Defenses to Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor Charges

Arizona defense attorneys utilize various legal case defenses to assist clients in fighting charges of violating Arizona Revised Statutes 4-241. Some appropriate defenses include the following:

The Licensee or Their Worker Committed An Error When Determining An Individual's Age

Even though an employee might have given or sold alcohol to a minor, they did so through an honest mistake regarding the actual person’s age. This defense strategy is effective, provided your mistake is reasonable.

An Individual Purchasing Liquor Was Not An Underage Child

You can only be found guilty of an offense under this legal statute if you provide or sell alcohol to an underage child. Consequently, it is an effective defense to demonstrate that you believed the person was above twenty-one.

A Worker Adhered to The Instructions As Outlined in Arizona Law

Recall that the statute in question outlines several legal measures that the licensee or their worker should undertake when they think an individual below 21 is attempting to obtain or buy liquor. The measures consist of correctly checking the individual’s identification. Consequently, it is your defense as a defendant to prove to police officers that you followed these measures and identified a client.

Other Related Criminal Charges

There are three related offenses for providing alcoholic beverages to a juvenile. There are:

Minor In Possession

Under Arizona Revised Statute 4-244(9), child in possession is the offense where an underage child receives, buys, possesses, or drinks an alcoholic beverage.

If a child purchases alcohol in breach of Arizona Revised Statutes 4-241 and keeps the liquor on their person, then they are technically guilty of the following:

  • Alcohol possession — Arizona Revised Statutes 2-244(9)
  • Purchasing alcohol — Arizona Revised Statutes 4-241

Contributing to A Minor’s Delinquency (Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3613)

Per Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3613, facilitating a minor’s delinquency is an offense where individuals engage in conduct that injures or debases a minor's welfare, health, or morals.

Based on the case facts, if an individual furnishes liquor to a child, the prosecution could charge that individual with:

  • Contributing to a minor’s delinquency
  • Furnishing liquor to a minor

Driving Under the Influence (Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1381A1)

Arizona Revised Statutes 28-1381A1, driving under the influence is the crime where a person drives or physically operates a vehicle while intoxicated with:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • A vapor-emitting substance with a harmful substance
  • Any mixture of alcohol, liquor, vapor, or drugs

Violation of Arizona Revised Statutes 4-241 could attract their driver’s license revocation or suspension.

Stages of Arizona Criminal Process

You might be wondering what to expect when facing criminal charges. While it is essential to have legal representation, understanding all the phases involved will help you navigate the criminal judicial system more effectively.

    1. An Arrest

Typically, the police will arrest you when a court issues your arrest warrant under the circumstances below:

  • A police officer saw you violating the law
  • There exists a warrant for the arrest
  • The law enforcers have probable cause to believe that you broke a law

The law enforcers can handcuff you, depending on the severity of your criminal charges or if they believe you pose a threat.

The arresting officer should read you your Miranda rights at the crime scene or before interrogating you. You are not legally supposed to answer police questions other than provide identifying information. The prosecution team can use anything you say or do against you in court.

     2. Initial Court Appearance

After taking your mugshot and fingerprints, the police will detain you until the initial appearance. The court hearing should occur within twenty-four hours of your arrest. During this court hearing, the judge will:

  • Tell you of your alleged charges
  • Appoint a lawyer if you cannot appoint paying one
  • Tell you of your release conditions, including bail and whether you qualify for your own recognizance release

Bail is the money you should post with the court to secure your release as you await your trial. It functions as a guarantee that you will attend your court hearings. The judge sets the amount. On the other hand, when the judge releases you on your own recognizance, you do not have to pay any amount. All you have to do is promise to return to court when required.

After your initial court appearance, the judge will file formal criminal charges unless the prosecution determines the case does not have enough proof and closes it.

     3. Preliminary Hearing

During your preliminary court hearing, the judge will listen to proof against you to determine whether sufficient proof exists to continue your criminal issue. Alternatively, the prosecution can file the matter with a grand jury to analyze it and decide whether there is enough evidence. If the matter proceeds, the judge will schedule an arraignment court proceeding.

Before your arraignment, your defense attorney can meet with the prosecutor to determine whether plea bargaining can reduce your sentence and penalties.

     4. Arraignment Court Hearing

The arraignment happens within ten (10) days once the grand jury decides to proceed with your case if you did not enter a plea. During this hearing, you will hear your criminal charges. You will also enter a plea of no contest, not guilty, or guilty, depending on what you and your defense lawyer decide is the best move based on your case facts.

The court will schedule your sentencing date after you enter a no-contest or guilty plea. On the contrary, a not-guilty plea implies the judge will set your trial date.

     5. Trial Court Hearing

You should often meet with your lawyer before your trial to discuss the case, strategize, and know what to anticipate. Here are some typical events to expect during this phase:

  • Opening statements
  • Witness exams
  • Cross-examination
  • Presenting case proof
  • Redirect examination
  • Verdict delivery
  • Closing arguments
  • Jury deliberations

The prosecutor has the burden to prove your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

Your trial can take days or weeks, depending on your case's complexity.

     6. Sentencing Phase

Sentencing is the last phase of Arizona criminal convictions. It is scheduled to determine the penalties you should face. The judge will listen to testimonies from your defense lawyer and the prosecutor regarding what punishment every party believes you should receive.

The Arizona legislature has established a range of sentences for various offenses, and the judge should impose a sentence within the range the law highlights.

After your sentence, you can later appeal your conviction in the Court of Appeals.

How to Seal Your Criminal Records

As of January 2023, Arizona permits citizens to seal their qualified criminal records and convictions as a post-conviction relief option. Sealing prevents the public from accessing your criminal records.

Sealing criminal records differs from expungement in that no person, law enforcement, or court can access your expunged criminal records. The Arizona expungement process only applies to low-level marijuana convictions. 

You can request the court to seal your case records if they are linked to the below circumstances:

  • Charges that the court dismissed or led to an acquittal (a not-guilty verdict)
  • An arrest where the prosecution team did not bring any criminal charges
  • An eligible conviction after completing the sentence and waiting period

Completing Your Sentence and Waiting Periods

For you to seal your ARS 4-241 conviction, you should meet the following requirements:

  • Complete your sentence conditions, including probation and paying restitution and fines
  • Completing your waiting period
  • Have not been convicted of a subsequent crime

The waiting period starts after you have completed your probation or sentence conditions and the court has discharged you. If you were sentenced for a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 3 misdemeanor, you should wait for three years and two years, respectively. You should also wait five years if you have a previous felony conviction.

How to File Your Criminal Record Sealing Petition

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you can file your petition in any of the places below:

  • The court where you were found guilty of furnishing alcohol to a minor
  • The court in which a criminal citation, complaint, information, or indictment was brought against you, provided the court dismissed your charges, in which the court vacated your conviction or found you not guilty
  • The court in which you attend your initial court appearance, if the prosecutor did not file the criminal charges
  • The Superior Court in the county where you were arrested, if you did not attend your initial appearance or the prosecutor never filed your criminal charges

Please provide as many details as possible in your petition. It includes details about the following:

  • Any criminal charge, including those the prosecution did not file
  • Arrest
  • Your case details (arresting agency, booking location, copy of your citation, incident number, department report number)

You can file your petition in person or by mail, depending primarily on the jurisdiction in which you are filing it.

Bringing your petition does not mean the court will approve it.

After filing the criminal record sealing request, the court should alert the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and have the agency create and submit a report to the court, including your federal and state arrests, convictions, and prosecutions, and any details to aid the court in deciding.

The DPS will charge a fee unless:

  • You are in adverse poverty
  • You have not been convicted
  • Your charges were dismissed
  • You were not prosecuted

The court clerk should provide the prosecutor with copies of the petition. The prosecution can respond to your petition and request a court hearing. Additionally, the alleged victim is entitled to attend and be heard at any hearing to which you have brought a petition.

Unless the alleged victim or prosecutor objects, the judge can grant the petition without scheduling a court proceeding following thirty (30) days. The court will seal the records if it is in the defendant’s and public safety’s best interest.

Your Sealed Criminal Record Could Still be in Use

While the public cannot access sealed records, the records are available for specific reasons, including the following:

Criminal Justice Purposes

After committing a subsequent crime, judges, prosecutors, and police use your sealed criminal record in your trial and when making future sentencing and charging decisions.

Applying for Sensitive Job Positions

The law bans you from denying the existence of your sealed criminal record when applying for any of the following:

  1. A position that requires your fingerprint clearance card
  2. A position with law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, a court, a child safety/welfare agency, or probation
  3. Placement of foster children in your house

How Your ARS 4-241 Misdemeanor Criminal Record Can Affect Your Employment

No state or federal law bans you from securing employment if you have a misdemeanor conviction. Nonetheless, most companies can be hesitant to hire you; they will deem you a potential liability, mainly if the offense is related to your job type.

Employers conduct background checks to screen potential employees' history. A background check can disclose issues like criminal history, convictions, the alleged crime, the filing date, credit reports, and jail time.

Arizona licensing boards also require defendants with criminal records to report their criminal history when applying for occupations like childcare and healthcare. A misdemeanor can often disqualify you from obtaining a professional license. Additionally, you should report your misdemeanor conviction to the board if you are already licensed. 

The challenge of securing stable employment is the most devastating collateral consequence of having a criminal record. Without stable employment, you can:

  • Accrue a lot of debts
  • Be unable to secure financial loans
  • Struggle to find secure and safe housing

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of obtaining employment with a previous misdemeanor conviction. They include the following:

  • Selling your criminal record
  • Having prepared responses whenever asked about your conviction
  • Finding personal recommendations and references

Please note that these steps do not guarantee success but can mitigate the damage the criminal history has done.

Contact an Expert Legal Representation Near Me

You need skilled legal representation if you have been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor offense. It might seem minor, but law enforcement authorities do not perceive it that way. You risk serving time, paying hefty fines, having a criminal record that follows you after incarceration, and even losing your business license as a business owner. We at Phoenix Criminal Attorney have extensive experience representing defendants and can fight for your legal rights, freedom, life, and future. We can also diligently work with you to reduce or dismiss the criminal charges. If dismissal is not feasible, we can represent you in court. For a free professional case review, please contact our office at 602-551-8092.

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