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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27769
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Live in Pa 17 year old son with juvenile citation for Ocean

Customer Question

Live in Pa 17 year old son with juvenile citation for Ocean city MD.
We were on vacation with family, my 17 year old son with no criminal record went down to the beach with his cousins. They purchased beer and my son had a few drinks off of one of them. They were then stopped by the police the older cousin was honest and said to the officer my son had a few drinks, All three now have citations. My questions since my son is only 17 should they have not called his parents instead of leaving him there with the people that gave him the beer? We have not been contacted at all. The citation makes it look as we will have to drive 5 hours back down for a hearing. Do you have any suggestions as to what we as parents should do? This is new and we are worried about the possibility of his losing his license or whatever else may be done. I can't even find a number on the citation for anyone to call and talk to we are just waiting for something to come in the mail. I really think the childs parents should be contacted. Any advice would be appreciated.. and believe me our son is being punished for this.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 years ago.
17 yo is often treated as an adult as far as calling parents, etc. In most cases they can even be charged as adults although, obviously, they will charge them as a minor in this type of case. You may want to call the prosecutor and see if some kind of pre-trial diversion is available so it doesn't affect his license or go on his record as a conviction.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.

your answer was appreciated, but didn't tell much as far as maryland laws.. that is what i was looking for. I did some research on my own and found several places that i listed under 18 the parents will be contacted to pick up.. this was on md juvenile websites, i was also looking to find out on there specific laws as to what he may get sentenced with.. sorry, but i didn't find anything extra helpful

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 years ago.
I'm going to opt out because you are relying on websites that aren't correct.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

Your son would be a juvenile under Maryland's law until he turns 18, and this is not the kind of offense for which he could be tried as an adult. The standard protocol in Maryland is that a juvenile would be released after an arrest to a parent or guardian. However, as your son was with family, and was simply handed a ticket, would you seriously have preferred that rather than just issuing a citation and breaking up the beach party that the police physically placed him in custody, took him to the station, booked him formally, stuck him in a cell, called you and then left him there until you could come pick him up? The fact is that with a 17 year old as opposed to, say, a 12 year old, the police have a lot of discretion that they can exercise.

Underage drinking cases are zero tolerance offenses. The days when a bunch of teens on a beach with a couple of six packs was an adolescent rite of passage are over. In today's world it's a strict liability crime, and there's very little wiggle room to fight the statute. At the same time the courts are fully aware that a criminal conviction can stunt the long term potential of a young person. The typical disposition for this kind of defense, therefore, is a diversion program in which the juvenile would have to pay some fines, do some community service, take some anti-alcohol classes and serve a brief period of time on probation (generally unsupervised). At the close of the successful completion of the conditions of his probation, the defendant would have all charges dismissed and would not carry the stigma of a criminal record.

All the same, to prevent any unexpected surprises, to make sure that all of your son's rights are protected and to see if the arrest can be challenged or if the case should be tried, you should retain a criminal lawyer for your son.