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State Patty's Day Leaves Penn State, Heads West to IUP

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While Penn State's annual drinking holiday known as State Patty's Day is dying a slow death over recent years, the "tradition" appears to be picking up speed at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The original State Patty's Day at Penn State started a few years ago when St. Patrick's Day fell over Spring Break. Students were upset that they missed the St. Patrick's Day drunk fest in State College, so they created State Patty's Day as an excuse to start drinking first thing in the morning and throughout a weekend. State Patty's Day in Happy Valley is almost uniformly despised by everyone but the students and visitors that participate in the event. Both the Penn State and State College communities have gone to great lengths to stop the drinking holiday, including Penn State  paying State College bars and distributors over $200,000.00 to remain closed this year on Saturday. The number of criminal incidents, alcohol overdoses, and criminal citations issued has greatly decreased over the last two years.

Penn State appears to be putting State Patty's Day to an end, but IUP Patty's Day has been picking up speed as this is year 2 of the drinking event. According to an online report, the police received 155 calls over IUP Patty's weekend, compared to receiving 98 and 100 calls the prior two weeks. The police compared the weekend calls to the same volume that they receive over homecoming weekend.

Pennsylvania Underage Drinking and Public Drunkenness Charges

At events like State Patty's Day or IUP Patty's Day, the police are routinely filing alcohol-related misdemeanor charges like Furnishing Alcohol to Minors and DUI, but the vast majority of charges would be summary citations for Underage Drinking, Public Drunkenness, and Possession of a Fake ID. The misdemeanor charges require a person to be fingerprinted, and such charges are retained by  the Pennsylvania State Police Repository, meaning that these charges would appear on almost any criminal background search. Summary charges generally do not require a person to be fingerprinted, so such charges are not forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police Repository. Some attorneys tell people that summary charges will not appear on a criminal background search, but such advice is wrong. Summary charges are publicly available on the Unified Judicial System Portal, and many background search companies are accessing that database and thereby including Pennsylvania summary charges like Disorderly Conduct in background search reports.  Simply stated, summary charges like Underage Drinking and Public Drunkenness do appear on many criminal background searches.

Avoiding a Conviction, Expunging the Record

Because summary charges are appearing more frequently in background search reports, it is now much more important to avoid a conviction and thereafter have a charge expunged. In some cases, a person can avoid a conviction by fighting the charge in court at a summary trial. If the person is found not guilty, then the person is able to seek expungement of the charge so that it would not appear on   criminal background reports. If the case cannot be beaten, another option is to seek admittance into a first time offender or pre-adjudicative program, such as completion of an alcohol education program or community service, and thereby obtain a dismissal of the charge. Many people mistakenly believe that a dismissed charge or a not guilty verdict means that the charge will not appear on a background search. Regrettably, the only way to remove a charge from a criminal record is to have the government records of the incident destroyed through an expungement. After the expungement process is completed, the government records of the incident are destroyed, so the charges should not appear on future background checks.  Hopefully anyone charged with a criminal offense as a result of either State Patty's Day of IUP Patty's day makes a smart decision and retains an experienced criminal defense attorney to obtain the best resolution possible.

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