Possession or consumption of alcohol or marijuana by a person under the age of 21 is illegal. However, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office recognizes that young people make mistakes and should have the opportunity to not be burdened with a conviction for a first time offense in most cases.
If a person is charged with possession or consumption of alcohol or marijuana as an underage person (what we commonly call minor in possession) they will usually be offered the opportunity to complete a 90 day deferred judgment for a first offense. That means that they will enter a guilty plea to the charge, but if they complete an alcohol or drug class, complete 8 hours of community service and attend a Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers’ Victim Impact Panel within the 90 deferred judgment period, then their guilty plea will be withdrawn and the case dismissed. They will return to court at the end of the 90 day period to provide proof of completion of the obligations. This option provides education, service to the community and the opportunity to keep this off a person’s criminal record.
In county court we often see people under the age of 18 who have been charged with curfew violations and possession of tobacco. Typically, they will be offered the chance to complete 8 hours of community service for dismissal of their case. They will be given a date to return to court to provide proof of completion of the community service at which time their case will be dismissed.