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Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
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We live in PA. My 20-year-old son just got his second underage

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We live in PA. My 20-year-old son just got his second underage drinking charge while walking home from a party. He is a Type I diabetic and told the officer that he had a low blood sugar, which he did. The symptoms of having low blood sugar are a lot like a drunk would act. Unfortunately he told the officer he had three beers and the officer had him sign a citation stating that he drank three beers. Aaron was so out of it due to the low blood sugar he didn't even know what he was saying or signing. The officer offered to call an ambulance and Aaron told him that wasn't necessary, that all he needed was sugar.

Last year he was walking home from a party with friends several hours after any of them drank. He blew .01 more than the legal limit for a minor. He took a course and lost his driver's license for three months. This time he will lose his license for one year. This could permanently damage his career. He is has been on the Dean's List every semester since he started school at Penn State. He is a good kid, one any parent could be proud of.

Is there any way to fight this latest charge?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 4 years ago.
*Due to rules of your state bar or mine, nothing herein is intended as legal advice, only intended as general information to better help yourself.

Hi, the only way to know if he has a shot at defeating is to demand the discovery, which every defendant should do. Many just "work with" the prosecutor and accept any plea of guilt offered, out of fear. But they have the right to demand discovery and make sure that it contains admissible evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of all elements of the crime charges AND that the defendant himself does not have an affirmative or other defense that he can put forth and present evidence of - either of which would prevent a conviction should the prosecution insist on trial, and if the defendant doesn't decide to plead guilty without making the State try him for the crime and prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

For instance, was the stopping of your son, and the arrest, with the needed amount of probable cause or suspicion? Was the admission he made admissible in court? If not, that damning admission of guilty - when he confessed to the crime of drinking beer - can not be entered into the case. If they have no other proof of alcohol in his system, they can't prove guilt and he is NOT required to get on the stand, so he need no admit the truth on the stand. Would the diabetes effect lend enough DOUBT also to convince a prosecutor to plea him to something that will NOT count as a crime on his criminal record? Did he test his blood or urine at home? They will likely have in the report (found in the discovery) the officer's statements as to your son's talk of feeling low blood suger - while this is far from proof of non-alcohol use, if you can get the alcohol use statement suppressed (via motion showing why it was procured, say, improperly), what are they left with? No proof of booze and some proof at least of a different reason for his behavior.

If he is not well-versed in criminal litigation, the rules on due process, suppression motions, etc., I'd invest in a strong criminal defense attorney. It may be an investment in himself and his future - and he can later pay you back with a part time job during school (that may also help him keep out of trouble going forward). Even if the evidence that is deemed admissible turns out to be strong, the attorney can seek to negotiate a plea to something less hurtful to your son's future. Many prosecutor's are cognizant of the fact that they have a college kid doing the college thing - and drinking under age is illegal not because it is "bad", but merely because the powers that be increased the age of drinking to 21 from 18, a while back. Were this several years ago, it wouldn't even be a crime. So, many prosecutor's do NOT want to ruin a future livelihood by sticking it to a young person for this 'crime.' I am actually surprised he got stuck with the first one - if he didn't hire a lawyer that may be why, and if he did, I'd not hire the same one again.

Good luck - there is hope, but he has to pursue it and not just roll over on the charges offered, site unseen as to the discovery and the caselaw that could help him.

I hope this helps clarify for you.

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