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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 3132
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Last night I was given a citation in public (41.27

Customer Question

Last night I was given a citation for drinking in public (41.27 sec. C) in Los Angeles CA. I'm 20 years old, turning 21 in November, and I never usually drink. I just had some bad luck and got caught sipping a beer while walking out to my Taxi after a house party. The officers approached me suddenly on the sidewalk and handcuffed me. They took my ID and wrote me a citation, but it has no court date. What should I do? I am an actor and need my car to get to auditions and class so I have to make sure my ability to drive isn't taken away. I'm just very nervous and would appreciate advice.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question.I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but how close one is to turning age 21 is legally irrelevant. The citation must be taken care of, and if the record is clean the best option is usually to request placement into the local version of a "diversion program".That portion of the CA Criminal Code deals with public drinking in a place that doesn't have a liquor license. A house party almost never does, and the public sidewalk anywhere never does.These are usually prosecuted as infractions, no jail time. But that needs to be confirmed before making any decision to just plead guilty by paying the fine. I can't find any reference that there would be any DMV involvement without a vehicle involved.It gets complicated because taking the wrong approach (which might even change locally month to month) might lead to paying the fine being locked into it being a misdemeanor conviction. That statute creates the dreaded California "wobbler", an offense that can be either a misdemeanor or an infraction... So if a court clerk says paying the fine without protest will result in it being processed as an infraction, GET IT IN WRITING. They mayor in 2013 directed that these (and a whole long list of other offenses) be processed as infractions, BUT the prosecutors still have the discretion to go for the misdemeanor. The memo is here: Thank you.