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Alcohol-related offenses are punishable as criminal misdemeanors in Virginia, and can therefore result in permanent criminal records, as well as fines, probation, and even jail. If you have been charged with an alcohol-related offense, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your case and determine your best course of action.

Alcohol-Related Offenses

There are several categories of alcohol-related offenses. If you have been charged, the "code section" listing the appropriate part of the Virginia Code will appear on your summons or warrant.

Underage Possession of Alcohol

Pursuant to Virginia Code § 4.1-305, no underage person shall "consume, purchase or possess, or attempt to consume, purchase or possess, any alcoholic beverage." Certain exceptions exist, including one for restaurant employees. Underage possession is a Class 1 (criminal) misdemeanor, and upon conviction, is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and / or a $2,500 fine. Upon conviction, a defendant shall be ordered to pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or ordered to perform a mandatory minimum of 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation supervision and (ii) the license to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of any such person age 18 or older shall be suspended for a period of not less than six months and not more than one year. A conviction may also give the defendant a permanent criminal record.

In appropriate cases, Court may be willing to place the first-time offenders in a "first offender program." Such offenders will be placed on probation, ordered to attend alcohol education classes, and may be required to fulfill other terms like community service. If the offender completes all of these terms, the Court may choose to dismiss the charge, which will prevent the offender from having a conviction on his criminal record.

Possession of False Identification

Pursuant to Virginia Code 18.2-204.2 it is illegal for any person to possess a fictitious driver's license or other official identity card. A violation is punishable as a Class 2 (criminal) misdemeanor, and upon conviction, is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and / or a $1,000 fine. A conviction may also give the defendant a permanent criminal record.

Disorderly Conduct

While consumption of alcohol is not a requirement for a disorderly conduct charge, it is often occurs as a result of alcohol consumption. Pursuant to § 18.2-415, a person is guilty of disorderly conduct if, while in a public place, he "engages in conduct having a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person or persons at whom, individually, such conduct is directed." Such conduct must be with "the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof." Disorderly conduct often involves a fight or conduct like to start a mutual fight, or angry words intended to provoke a fight. Disorderly conduct is a Class 1 (criminal) misdemeanor, and upon conviction, is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and / or a $2,500 fine. A conviction may also give the defendant a permanent criminal record.

Drunk in Public

Pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-388, it is illegal for a person who "profanely curses or swears or is intoxicated in public, whether such intoxication results from alcohol, narcotic drug or other intoxicant or drug of whatever nature." Being drunk in public is a Class 4 (criminal) misdemeanor and upon conviction, is punishable by up to a $250 fine. A conviction may also give the defendant a permanent criminal record.

Alcohol-Related Cases in Court

In Court, the Commonwealth (state) presents its side first, and will present evidence of the crime. This will usually be the officer's testimony, and may also include additional evidence like witnesses, photos, and even breathalyzer certificates. The defendant who was charged will then have an opportunity to testify and present any other evidence. The Court will rule at the end of the evidence, and in misdemeanor cases typically does so immediately. If the defendant is acquitted - found not guilty - then he will receive no punishment. If he is convicted - found guilty - the defendant is usually sentenced immediately, after the Court has had a chance to review the defendant's criminal record and any other relevant evidence. The sentence can include any of the penalties available to the court.

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If you are facing criminal allegations, we are prepared to stand up for your rights. Call us today at (434) 972-9600 or contact us online.


Davidson and Kitzmann, PLC
211 E. High Street
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
Tel: (434) 972-9600
Fax: (434) 220-0011
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Disclaimer

We are a Charlottesville, Va law firm, but our lawyers handle cases in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Greene County, Fluvanna County, Louisa County, Nelson County, Madison County, Orange County, Richmond, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, and across Virginia.

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