College campuses across Pennsylvania and across the United States are full of underage drinkers and underage drinking parties. While the partying activity is widespread, it is still illegal and not ignored by most police departments. In a recent York County, Pennsylvania incident, a few York College students decided to host a party and possibly make some money by charging $10.00 per person to attend. Because their marketing budget was limited, the young entrepreneurs turned to Facebook to spread the word. Regrettably, they failed to understand that the police also have access to social media.
According to a Huffington Post article, a woman at a Texas music festival was not issued an Underage Drinking citation after she beat the officers at a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The event was apparently recorded and went viral. The officers are now in trouble and have been banned from working the same concert in the future.
After being a criminal defense attorney in State College for almost 11 years, I have seen Pennsylvania judges impose sentences on thousands of people, and those sentences generally include a period of jail time, probation, community service, payment of costs and fines, and completion of counseling. The sentences are relatively uniform, and in many cases, the sentences are "cookie cuttered," meaning the person being sentenced receives the same sentence as the last person and individual consideration is not given. For example, almost all drunk driving offenders are sentenced to the severe mandatory minimum sentences, and no consideration is given to whether or not the person completed an alcohol counseling program or sought treatment for alcohol addiction.
In the fall of 2014, star Pittsburgh Steeler running back Leveon Bell was charged with a misdemeanor marijuana possession and various drug-DUI charges. Bell was charged after marijuana was found in a vehicle that had been driven by Bell. Bell admitted to having contributed money to purchase the marijuana and to having smoked some of the marijuana earlier in the day, but he denied that he was actually high at the time that he was driving. Bell thought that he was able to legally drive in Pennsylvania and avoid drunk driving charges as long as he was not high while driving. Regrettably for Bell, he was wrong about the law, and ignorance of the law is not a defense.
A recent Dauphin County case has brought attention to who decides whether a person charged with a criminal offense is permitted to participate in a pretrial diversionary or first-time offender program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, commonly called "ARD." With the ARD program, a person pleads not guilty to the criminal charges, but the person willingly accepts a punishment from the court in the form of supervision by the probation department, payment of court costs and fees, community service, and completion of counseling. Upon completion of the ARD requirements and compliance with its conditions, the person successfully completes the ARD program and is normally able to have the charges dismissed and then expunged from the criminal records maintained by the government.
New Hampshire residents near Keene celebrate an annual pumpkin festival at which attendees try to set a world record of the largest number of carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place. Sounds like it would be a nice family gathering. It just so happens that students from nearby Keene State College also attend. Regrettably, a few of the students had too much to drink this past year, got out of hand, and wrecked the festival by basically starting a riot. According to onlookers, some people started throwing rocks, skateboards, buckets, and not so surprisingly, pumpkins. Aside from throwing things, the crowd also flipped over a car, tore down street signs, and set some fires in the streets. Police responded in riot gear and tried to disperse the crowds with tear gas.
I am not sure what made a New York mom think that hiring two strippers for her 16-year-old son's birthday party was a good idea. I think that most people would agree that her plan was not a good idea, but I am sure that most people would not expect that her bad decision would result in the filing of Child Endangerment charges.