Minor in Possession of Alcohol in Mississippi
While every parent works hard to ensure their child always stays on the right side of the law, children can still make wrong choices sometimes during their high school or college years. Mississippi has a stringent minor in possession (MIP) law, which makes it illegal for an individual below the age of twenty-one (21) to possess an alcoholic beverage.
Alcoholic beverages in this context include wine, beer, mixed beverages, or hard liquor. Facing a minor in possession charge is a serious matter, which can have long-lasting adverse consequences upon conviction. If your child has been charged with MIP in Mississippi, the dedicated legal team at Smith Murphy Law can help.
Our minor in possession defense attorneys will fight aggressively to protect your child’s rights and put into place the strongest possible defense, to help achieve the best possible legal outcome. When you sign up with our firm, our lawyers will immediately spring into action. We leave no stone unturned to ensure that the charges against your child are greatly mitigated, if not dropped entirely.
What Does the Law Say on MIP in Mississippi?
When a person who has not yet reached the age of twenty-one (21) in Mississippi is found to be in possession of alcohol in a public place, they may be charged with MIP. Minor in possession is a misdemeanor under state law. Possession may constitute:
- Actual Possession: If your child was holding an alcoholic drink in their hand, or had an alcoholic beverage contained in their clothing, backpack, or bag attached to their body, the prosecution may claim “actual possession” of alcohol.
- Constructive Possession: If an alcoholic beverage was found in a place that was under your child’s control, the prosecution may claim that the child was aware of its existence. This is known as constructive possession. The “place” in this context may include a vehicle or a school locker or other such location.
Possession of Alcohol on Private Property
Minor in possession law under Section 67-1-81 specifies possession in a public place. So, what happens if a minor is found in possession of alcohol on private property?
In this case, the prosecution in Mississippi may use another law under Section 67-3-70, which criminalizes a minor’s possession or purchase of beer or light wine. This law does not specify public or private places. Therefore, the prosecution could use it to charge a minor with possession of alcohol on private property.
Clearly, an MIP charge in Mississippi is a serious matter for your child’s future, no matter whether it involves public or private property. It’s critical to consider the fact that employers will most likely conduct a background check before hiring a candidate. If the candidate’s record shows a permanent conviction, it could affect their chances of getting a job of their choice.
An MIP conviction would cast a shadow on a young person’s life and career and would remain visible for anyone to see. Our MIP defense lawyers at Smith Murphy Law understand what the stakes are in these cases and will mount the strongest defense available to protect your child’s rights and obtain the best possible legal outcome. We treat your child’s case and future as if it were one of our kids.
Penalties in Mississippi for Minor in Possession Charge
Under Mississippi law, a person charged with a minor in possession offense may have to face significant penalties upon conviction. These include:
- Driver’s license suspension for up to 90 days
- Fine of up to $500
- Community service for up to 30 days
In addition, the court may place the minor on probation for a certain time period and impose other conditions, such as a curfew, completing an alcohol safety course online, and/or attending in-person classes. Notably, the high school or university may impose additional penalties according to their independent rules. For example, the University of Mississippi or Ole Miss, imposes a two (2) strike policy on students. Meaning that if a student is found to have committed two (2) alcohol related offenses, they may be expelled.
In some cases, the offender may be arrested for minor possession and sent to jail. In other cases, they may only receive a formal notice to appear in court or ticket. A failure to follow the court’s notice, or ticket, will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.
It can be tempting to ignore the notice and get trapped in wishful thinking that the charges will just go away. In reality, it will only complicate matters, leading to contempt of court charges, and possibly more.
It’s best to speak to the criminal defense attorneys at Smith Murphy Law as soon as possible for the right legal advice. We will help you explore all legal options and put together the best plan to get the charges reduced or dismissed.
Notable Exceptions to the MIP Law – Parents and Employers
Mississippi has a number of exceptions to the minor in possession law. The law allows a person in the age group of 18 to 20 to consume beer or light wine (but not liquor) in the presence of a parent or guardian. Members of the US military who are over 18 years old are allowed by law to possess or consume beer or light wine (but not liquor) at authorized military installations.
In addition, minors 18-20 years old in Mississippi who work with alcohol, are legally permitted to:
- Bag and handle alcohol bought in the course of business, as an employee
- Stock alcoholic drinks in the course of business
- Clear tables of glasses containing alcoholic drinks
- Waiters and waitresses may deliver alcoholic drinks during the course of their job, but they cannot act as a bartender or mix drinks
Misrepresenting Age to Buy Alcohol in Mississippi
Under state law, it is illegal for a person below the age of 21 to purchase alcohol. A minor in violation of this law can face misdemeanor charges, which may result in license suspension for up to 90 days and a fine of up to $500 upon conviction.
Young people may sometimes attempt to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. But it’s noteworthy that mere possession of a fake ID is a misdemeanor – even when it is not used to purchase alcohol or enter a bar. The penalties may include up to 30 days of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500.
Our Seasoned MIP Defense Attorneys are Ready to Protect Your Child’s Rights
If your child is facing minor in possession (MIP) charges in Mississippi as a state resident or a student whose parents reside out of state, our attorneys will fight to protect your child’s rights and their future.
We are familiar with the tactics of law enforcement in Mississippi to target youngsters or college students at concerts, sporting events, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, and we know the most effective legal strategies to employ in order to put together a successful defense. Call us at (662) 832.7879 to schedule your free and confidential consultation or contact us online.