BYOB Not a Defense to Pennsylvania Furnishing Alcohol Charges

A Philadelphia area woman that had previously run to be the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania was charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor after allegedly throwing an underage drinking party for her daughter’s 17th birthday.  At the Preliminary Hearing, various teenage attendees testified that the woman hosted the party at her home and actively participated in the festivities.  Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the woman’s criminal defense attorney argued that the Furnishing charges should be dismissed because no testimony was presented as to who brought the alcohol, meaning there was no evidence that his client “furnished” or actually supplied the alcohol.

The problem with this argument is that the legal definition of “furnish” as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.6 includes allowing a minor to possess alcohol on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged.  Therefore, just allowing minors to drink in the house was sufficient to justify the Furnishing charges.  The argument for dismissal based upon a lack of evidence of supplying alcohol was meritless. The drinking clearly occurred in the woman’s home, and the testimony was not only that she permitted it but actually an active participant.  The BYOB argument to the Furnishing charges, meaning the woman didn’t provide the alcohol, was a dead loser based upon the testimony presented.

Mandatory Fines for Pennsylvania Furnishing Alcohol Charge

The Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor charge in Pennsylvania is graded as a misdemeanor.  As a criminal defense attorney in State College, I have represented many Penn State students that were charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors.  Many of those cases were resolved via a diversionary program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD).  Successful completion of ARD allows the person to seek a dismissal of the charges.  If the charges are dismissed, the person can then seek to have records of the case destroyed through the expungement process.

In a case like this, the district attorney would most likely deny a request for ARD because the prosecutor want to impose a stronger punishment to increase the deterrent effect in a case involving an adult providing alcohol to a juvenile.  Simply stated, there is a big difference between young adults providing alcohol to one another and an adult providing alcohol to a teen.

Instead of permitting ARD, the prosecutor may actually seek jail time for a conviction.  The Furnishing charge also carries a minimum fine of $1,000.00 for a first violation and a fine of $2,500.00 for each subsequent violation.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Matters

Anyone charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor or other criminal offenses should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.  An experienced lawyer should know the definition of “furnishing” and not make such a bad argument for dismissal.