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Selling or Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor in Utah

Salt Lake Criminal Defense Attorney - Providing Alcohol to a Minor

Selling, offering for sale, or otherwise providing or furnishing alcohol to a person under the age of 21 in Utah is a criminal offense under Utah Code 32B-4-403. Penalties can include up to one year and jail and substantial fines.

If you are facing criminal prosecution for providing alcohol to a minor, an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can make all the difference. Based in Salt Lake City, criminal lawyer Stephen Howard has successfully protected his clients rights in thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor criminal defense cases. He has defended his clients for a wide variety of alcohol-related criminal charges. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals for some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

Police Enforcement of Utah Code 32B-4-403

Salt Lake MIP Attorney UtahMany charges for selling or furnishing alcohol to a minor in violation of 32B-4-403 involve coordinated police enforcement efforts. Rather than waiting to receive a reported violation, police will enlist the assistance of minors who are willing to try to purchase alcohol. Police can send these minors to a convenience store or restaurant, with instructions to attempt to purchase beer or other alcoholic products.

Often it seems that these police enforcement efforts coincide with the busiest times for the convenience store or restaurant. Many times, a clerk or server is well-intentioned, and attempts to properly check the customer's ID. But even a temporary distraction may cause the clerk or server to make a mistake in checking the ID or to simply forget to ask to see the ID.

If the store clerk or restaurant server makes a mistake and sells, offers to sell, or otherwise furnishes alcohol to the minor, the police can enter the establishment and issue a citation to the employee. While police have authority to make an arrest, normally a citation is issued with instructions to contact the court in regard to scheduling a court date.

The police use of minors to try to catch unsuspecting clerks or servers may seem like entrapment. But police are generally trained to avoid conduct and tactics that would rise to the level required to support an affirmative entrapment defense.

Elements of a Criminal Charge for Providing Alcohol to a Minor

Criminal charges for furnishing alcohol to a minor in Utah require evidence that the defendant sold, offered to sell, or otherwise furnished or provided alcohol to another person who is a minor. For purposes of this section of the Utah criminal code, a minor is any person under the age of 21 years.

This criminal charge does not require proof that the defendant knew the minor was under the age of 21. Instead, the statute requires at a minimum only that the defendant acted with simple negligence or recklessly in failing to determine whether the person receiving the alcohol was a minor. A simple negligence standard does not require proof that the defendant intended to provide alcohol to a person under the age of 21, knew that the person was under the age of 21, or even consciously disregarded a substantial risk that the person was under the age of 21.

Simple negligence only requires evidence that the defendant did not exercise a reasonable degree of care in determining (or failing to determine) the minor's true age. In most circumstances, a clerk or restaurant server is expected to request and check the customer's official state-issued identification or driver license. If a mistake is made in reading the ID or if no ID is requested, negligence will likely be found. On the other hand, if a customer presents a fake ID which the clerk or server is unable to detect as fake (assuming that it is a reasonably well-made fake), then a clerk or server has exercised reasonable care and should not be found negligent.

Penalties for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor in Utah

The level of offense for supplying or selling alcohol to a minor can depend on the intent (mens rea) of the defendant. In most criminal prosecutions for providing alcohol to a minor, the prosecutor can prove only that the defendant acted recklessly or with simple negligence in regard to determining the minor's age. If this is all that can be proven, then the charge is filed at the class B misdemeanor level, with a maximum jail term of up to 180 days

But if a prosecutor can prove that the defendant had actual knowledge that the recipient of the alcohol was a minor under the age of 21, then the charge can be filed as a class A misdemeanor. The maximum jail term for a class A misdemeanor is 365 days.

In addition to legal consequences, many stores and restaurants have policies under which an employee can be terminated for selling alcohol, even by mistake, to a minor.

Exceptions under Utah Code 32B-4-403

Utah criminal law carves out some narrow exceptions to criminal liability for providing alcohol to a minor. These exceptions focus on alcohol that is provided for medicinal purposes. To meet this exception, the alcoholic product must be provided to the minor by the minor's parent or guardian, or by the minor's health care practitioner (doctor, nurse practitioner, etc.)

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt Lake

Utah Criminal LawyerAs an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney, Stephen Howard has protected his clients' rights in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases. His experiences in trials, appeals, and in legal motion practice have helped him develop a defense strategy designed to help give his clients the best chance at a positive outcome in their cases. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious criminal charges on the books in Utah.

If you are facing prosecution in Utah for providing alcohol to a minor or other criminal charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
340 East 400 South, Suite 25, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

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