Charges of Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor go hand-in-hand, but the severity of the charges is drastically different. Some people assume that a charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor is minor because a charge of Underage Drinking is relatively minor offense. While a charge of Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania is graded as a summary offense, a charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor is actually a misdemeanor offense. With the charge being a misdemeanor offense, a person charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor must be fingerprinted and have mugshots taken, so such a charge will appear on most, if not all, criminal background searches. As with all criminal charges, the Furnishing Alcohol to Minors charges can impair a Penn State student's ability to obtain employment or internships.
Aside from the possibility of having a criminal record, the Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor under the Crimes Code charge also carries a minimum fine of $1,000.00 for the first violation and a fine of $2,500.00 for each subsequent violation. As the fine is a mandatory minimum, a sentencing judge does not have the authority to issue a lesser fine for a Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor charge. In some situations, the police actually file a Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor charge for every underage person that was provided with alcohol, so multiple furnishing charges can be filed from one underage drinking party.
In Centre County, a person suspected of furnishing alcohol to a minor is often charged with two offenses for every underage person that was provided with alcohol, with one offense under the Crimes Code and the other offense under the Liquor Code. Therefore, for furnishing one minor, a Penn State student is often charged with two misdemeanors offenses. The offense under the Crimes Code is slightly more difficult to prove as it requires the district attorney to prove that the furnisher "knew" that the person provided with alcohol was under the age of 21. The offense under the Liquor Code does not require proof that the suspected furnisher knew that the person was under 21. Therefore, the offense under the Liquor Code is easier for the district attorney to prove, but the penalties for this offense are also not as severe. A person convicted of the misdemeanor Furnishing Charge under the Liquor Code is subject to a fine of at least $100.00 but not more than $500.00 for a first offense and a fine of not less than $300.00 nor more than $500.00 for a subsequent offense.