Police in Jacksonville seem to focus on underaged people drinking at the major events in Jacksonville. It seems as if after most, if not all, big events in Jacksonville, such as the Georgia-Florida game, the Gator Bowl, concerts and other events, there is an article in the paper about the large number of arrests for underaged drinking. As criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida, we get most of our calls from people arrested for underaged drinking after such events. For example, at the recent sold out Monster Jam at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, law enforcement gave 38 people notices to appear citations for underaged drinking.
An arrest for underaged drinking in Florida would appear to be a fairly minor ordeal, although it is a misdemeanor crime. Many times, the police officer does not actually arrest the person but gives him/her what appears to be a ticket, or notice to appear in court at a later date, instead. Everyone must understand that on a person’s criminal record, that ticket is the equivalent of an actual arrest. For those people who are actually arrested for underaged drinking, they will be in front of a judge within 24 hours and are normally given an offer of time served upon a guilty or no contest plea.
While the misdemeanor charge of underaged drinking is hardly ever going to be serious, the problem is that a guilty or no contest plea can have a serious effect on a person’s criminal record and their ability to seal or expunge that record in the future. Florida law does allow people to seal or expunge a criminal record one time in certain circumstances, depending on the crime, the disposition and other factors. However, if a person is adjudicated guilty on any crime, the law does not allow that person to have any other crime sealed or expunged. So, if a person gets arrested or gets a notice to appear on an underaged drinking charge and enters a plea of guilty or no contest thinking that is the quickest and easiest resolution, the judge may likely adjudicate that person guilty. If the judge does adjudicate the person guilty and that person gets a more serious charge in the future that is dropped or adjudication is withheld, the old underaged drinking charge may prevent that person from sealing or expunging the second, more serious charge.