What are the penalties for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Charges of Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly. Many people assume that because the charges are so closely associated with one another that the charges would be treated the same in the criminal justice system. People also assume that because almost everyone drinks underage at college, that a charge of Furnishing Alcohol to Minors is not a big deal. Regrettably, the person that provides alcohol to a minor is in much more trouble than the person drinking that alcohol. Underage Drinking is a summary offense, but 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 make it more difficult to obtain employment or internships. For Penn State students, the criminal charges can result in the university proceeding with its disciplinary process for violations of the Code of Student Conduct.
Possible Sentences for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors
In Centre County, a person suspected of furnishing alcohol is often charged with two furnishing charges, one offense Furnishing Alcohol to Minor under 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1 of the Crimes Code and the other called Unlawul Acts Relative to Liquor under 47 P.S. 4-493 of the Liquor Code. The charges are slightly different with regard to the proof that is required to obtain a conviction. The Crimes Code charge is slightly more difficult to prove and thereby carries more severe penalties. If a person is convicted of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor under 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1. the person faces a minimum fine of $1,000.00 for the first violation and a fine of $2,500.00 for each subsequent violation. As the fines are mandatory minimums, a sentencing judge does not have the authority to issue a lesser fine. 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 unless the case has egregious facts or the person has a lengthy prior criminal history. 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.