What penalties are associated with a conviction of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Charges of Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, but the severity of the charges is drastically different. Many people assume that because the charges are so closely associated with one another that the charges would treated the same in the criminal justice system, and because Underage Drinking is a relatively minor, non-traffic, summary offense, those people assume that a Furnishing charge would also be a relatively minor infraction. A charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor is actually a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. With the charge being a misdemeanor offense, a person charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor must be “processed,” which means that the person must be fingerprinted and have a photo or mugshot 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. Aside from the fine, the judge normally includes a sentence of probation. It is relatively rare that a judge would impose a sentence of jail time for a furnishing case.
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.