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Hi. Thank you for your questions.
Please allow me to answer them in the order that they were presented.
I will start by saying that, because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting with counsel in person. That said, (1) underaged consumption of alcohol is not an especially serious charge, but it is a criminal charge nonetheless and needs to be treated seriously. I would always recommend the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to ensure that your daughter's rights are protected and that she gets the best outcome possible under the law....
(2) When you ask if the JV court officer "should" be contacting and visiting your daughter in school, are you asking if it is legally appropriate? Or are you asking if it is likely to happen? It would be legally permissible for contact to be made with a minor during school hours, but they generally don't have the resources to make that kind of contact for such an insignificant offense.
Before I continue, does this make sense so far?
The court decides the punishment, and the court does not punish you for protecting your rights.
If this person is trying to bully you, that just underscores the importance of getting counsel. Frankly, the JV officer's response is pretty ridiculous. This isn't a murder.
The officer can make their recommendation to the court, but it's the court's decision. If the officer wanted to recommend something that was inappropriate for the circumstances, or even just harsher than usual, they would have to persuade the court that there was justification for doing so, and getting an attorney is not a valid explanation.
As a parent, I am personally aghast that the laws allows law enforcement officers to come into the schools and interview children without the knowledge or consent of their parents. The students still have all the Constitutional protections afforded to adults, but that does not include notification/consent of the parents. If you want to create a policy at your school to notify parents when law enforcement contacts your children, more power to you, but I recommend discussing that policy with an attorney. You don't want to create a situation, for example, where you are impeding a child abuse investigation.The court is not required to accept the JV officer's suggestion for the penalty. However, it is correct that the JV officer decides if the charges are to be pursued in court.
If the JV officers recommends probation, the court is not required to accept that recommendation. However, if the JV officer and the child are in agreement, the court will rarely interfere.
Ready to move on to your 3rd and 4th questions?
No problem. (3) Whether to include that information is up to you. I can tell you that for a first-time offense on a charge this insignificant, it is likely to have no impact whatsoever either way.
With regard to your final question, do you have any specific concerns about releasing the medical information?
The only likely reason for being interested in the records would be to determine if your daughter has a history of substance abuse problems. The juvenile courts are suppose to help reform/rehabilitation more so than punish, especially for a substance-related crime such as this. If your daughter has a history of alcoholism, for example, the recommendation to the court would possibly be different than if there was no such history. That said, even though I can speak in these generalities, I wouldn't be comfortable making a recommendation either way without being directly involved in the case (and frankly, I wouldn't take a recommendation of someone in my position for this particular question).
As for a reasonable outcome, definitely no jail time. Is your daughter licensed to drive?
And no other criminal history, correct?
When you say "no", you mean that there is no other criminal history? Is that correct?
There are basically two types of people in courts. First, there are people who are in and out of the system their entire lives--they are criminals and they know no other way of life. Second, you have the people who make a mistake, learn their lesson, and go on to live as productive citizens. The second group gets the proverbial slap on the wrist. For a first time offense for a MIP charge, no other serious aggravating factors at play, you would typically expect the minimum penalty of a $200 fine, plus court costs, and probation.
As I mentioned, every case is different, so there are no guarantees, but when the circumstances are not offensive, the punishment is not either.
Does that make sense?
The court would set the terms, but it would typically be informal probation, which means that you don't have to report to a probation officer. You're required to obey the law, not consume any alcohol, and self-report any violations for example.
It's basically a period of time when you're held more accountable. Once the probationary period ends, you're done.
Curfews and community service are not typical for something like this. But right now your daughter is going to have to accept that she's not going to have all the answers until she actually gets into court. She can be satisfied knowing that the punishment will be proportional to the crime, and the crime is not that serious. So I would just encourage both of you to be patient and not worry about the minute details until that time comes.
It's my pleasure, and I'm glad that I could explain the law in a way that you were able to understand. There is a lot of uncertainty when faced with these problems, but the system works surprisingly well in many situations.
My pleasure. Does that answer all of your questions?
Same to you, and best of luck to you both. :-)
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