Serving or Selling Alcohol to Minors Offenses in New Jersey

Serving or Selling Alcohol to Minors Defense Lawyers in Paterson and Other Passaic County NJ Areas

Serving or Selling Alcohol to Minors Offenses in Passaic County, NJResearch shows that alcohol use by teens can have adverse effects on how the brain functions and develops and opens the door for alcohol abuse later in life.  Over one-fourth of all teenagers living in the U.S. are reported to be regular alcohol drinkers (5.41 million) who also engage in binge drinking, while an additional one-third (6.5 million) admit to drinking casually. Underage drinking leads to health dangers such as injuries, sexual assaults, overdoses, and deaths from car accidents related to drinking and driving.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), last year in the United States, thousands of underage drinkers were injured or killed as a result of alcohol use.  There were 1,875 vehicle accidents, 934 homicides, 201 alcohol overdoses or related causes such as falls or drownings, and 649 suicides.

As a result, New Jersey considers serving, selling, or purchasing alcohol for minors a serious crime. Making alcohol available to anyone under the legal drinking age is a crime and carries serious consequences.  Encouraging minors to drink alcohol is also illegal.  Allowing teenagers to drink in your home is against the law.  Many parents claim they would rather have their children and their friends imbibe in a supervised environment, but hosting a party and serving alcohol to minors is against the law.  Undercover police officers will station themselves close to liquor stores to catch minors buying alcohol or adults attempting to buy it for them.  Liquor stores, bars, and restaurants can face a suspension of their liquor license from 15 to 45 days or the eventual loss of their license if they have repeated offenses.

If you have been accused of providing alcohol to a minor in Hawthorne, Haledon, Ringwood, Wayne, Clifton, Passaic City, Paterson, or another community in Passaic County, New Jersey, the Montanari Law Group is here to offer the skilled legal representation of our experienced criminal defense lawyers. You can get in touch with us for a free initial consultation by calling (973) 233-4396.

The Legal and Social Fallout of Providing Alcohol to Minors in NJ

Providing alcohol to a minor is a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) and carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a possible six-month jail sentence. If jail is not a part of the sentence, there are other consequences, such as probation or community service, that someone can face.  Also, it will be placed on a criminal record, which could affect a person’s ability to get into college, get a job, obtain a loan, or rent a home.

There could be additional charges, such as civil penalties, when the minors are in an accident related to drinking alcohol.  New Jersey’s Social Host Liability Law holds the person who provided the alcohol partially responsible for the accident. For example, if Mr. Peterson invites his daughter’s friends to the house for a barbecue and allows them to drink alcohol if one of the minors has a car accident, Mr. Peterson could experience civil penalties as well as criminal ones.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Held Criminally Responsible for Serving Alcohol to a Minor in New Jersey

In terms of selling alcohol to a minor, if they present a driver’s license or a state or federal identification card confirming they are 21 years of age or older, and the sale was made in good faith that the document was accurate, it is a plausible explanation.  If a parent who is of legal age serves alcohol to their minor child or serves it to another minor whose parents are present and have given their consent, it could be an affirmative defense. Additionally, alcohol used as part of a religious rite or ritual is not considered illegal.

Diversionary Programs Options to Avoid Conviction for Serving or Selling Alcohol To Minors

Diversionary programs are a potential alternative to jail. They are used to prevent reoffending, unclog the court’s dockets, preserve resources, and offer an option to keep a clean record. Conditional dismissal is an option for those charged with serving alcohol to a minor that allows the accused to circumvent a criminal hearing and possible conviction.  Conditional dismissal requires the defendant to complete a probationary period, possible drug and alcohol testing, substance abuse classes, and other requirements determined by the court.  The principal advantage of participating in the program is a clean criminal record.  Only first-time offenders are eligible.

Can Someone Under the Legal Age to Drink be Convicted of Providing Alcohol to Other Minors in NJ?

In State vs. Haarde, when he decided to have a keg party, Robert Haarde was home for Thanksgiving. He was not of legal drinking age but was not a minor. According to at least one witness, he charged his guests for the beer. For a $2 cover, they were allowed to consume freely. A neighbor called the police, complaining of the noise. Robert Haarde was convicted of providing alcohol to underage people, serving approximately 150 guests, the majority of whom were minors, according to the authorities.  He appealed the decision, stating that N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17 applies only to those of legal drinking age who supply alcohol to underage minors, and as he was not of legal drinking age, the law did not apply to him.  He also claimed that the municipal court made mistakes with his case regarding evidentiary rulings.

The Appellate Court contended that the purpose of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-17 is to ensure that minors are not given access to alcohol and that prosecution is not limited to those 21 years of age or older.  If it were to allow anyone 18-21 years old to serve alcohol to underage drinkers, it would undermine the purpose of the law itself.  They interpreted the law to say that “anyone who purposefully or knowingly offers or serves or makes available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age…is a disorderly person.”

Haarde accused the municipal court of falsely applying the statute because they charged him for using his house, which was available to the party.  The State’s case is supported by several witnesses who testified to the presence of many underage drinkers and that everyone was charged a fee to drink from the keg. The Appellate Court upheld the ruling by the Municipal Court, which confirmed Haarde’s conviction for providing alcohol to underage drinkers.

Expungement Eligibility For Supplying Alcohol To Minors in NJ

If you have no more than 5 disorderly persons offenses or 3 disorderly persons offenses and one indictable offense, you can file a petition with the court to have your record expunged.  You have to wait for 5 years after completing your sentence, including fines, court costs, and community service.

In 2019, New Jersey adopted the Clean Slate law, allowing the expungement of one’s entire criminal record. Those who have not been convicted for 10 years and have completed all their legal obligations can qualify. Certain crimes cannot be expunged, so it is important to talk to an experienced lawyer about your eligibility.

Charged with Serving or Selling Alcohol To Minors? Our Paterson Defense Attorneys Can Provide Assistance in NJ

Call our Defense Lawyers for Assistance with Serving or Selling Alcohol To Minors in Totowa NJ

Selling, purchasing, or providing alcohol to minors is an offense that has serious consequences.  Not only are you putting yourself at risk of facing criminal charges, if your actions result in the harm of someone else, you can be held liable in civil court as well.

If you have been charged with giving alcohol to a minor, you are facing possible jail time, fines, and a criminal record that could have a negative effect on your future.  Let our practiced law team at The Montanari Law Group provide you with the defense you need to shield your reputation and future endeavors in Woodland Park, Little Falls, West Milford, Totowa, and other Passaic County, New Jersey neighboring towns.  We have successfully defended a multitude of cases just like yours, and we know the best steps to take to help you deal with these charges. We are available anytime to discuss how we can help you handle the situation, so if you need legal guidance, now is the time to call  (973) 233-4396 or reach out to us online for a free consultation.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.