How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor when the police did not seize the “alcohol” and have it tested?
Testing the Alcohol
The Furnishing Alcohol to Minors charge prohibits a person from furnishing “any liquor or malt or brewed beverage.” “Liquor” and “malt or brewed beverage” are both defined in section 6310.6 of the Crimes Code and both basically are beverages that contain 0.50% or more of alcohol by volume. In the past, in a Furnishing Alcohol to Minors case, the court generally did require that the beverage was tested so that the prosecution attorney had direct evidence that the beverage was 0.50% or more of alcohol by volume. The Pennsylvania Legislature then passed section 6312 of the Vehicle Code which expressly provides that chemical testing is not necessary and circumstantial evidence is sufficient to prove that the substance was liquor or a malt or brewed beverage. While 6312 is found in the Vehicle Code, it expressly provides that it is applicable to offenses under the Crimes Code, meaning it is applicable to offenses such as Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to Minors.
In Centre County, judges routinely accept circumstantial evidence as proof in Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to Minors cases. If the furnishing case involved cans or bottles of beer, the State College or Penn State police routinely testify as to the type of beer involved, and the police then present evidence that the beer is listed in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as being a beverage that has .50% or more of alcohol by volume. In a furnishing case that does not have clear evidence of the brand of beer or alcohol involved, the State College or Penn State police will often present testimony from the underage person that was furnished that they consumed a beverage that they believed was alcohol at a particular location, and then the police will testify that the underage person exhibited signs of being intoxicated, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, difficulty standing, and an odor of alcohol. The police do not need to administer a portable breath test to the underage person in order to show that the underage person consumed alcohol.