Last week, we wrote about the greater number of DUI arrests that we expected over the Halloween and Florida-Georgia weekend in Jacksonville, Florida. True to form, police were out in force making DUI arrests throughout Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach. In addition to DUI arrests, an article today indicated that Jacksonville and Jacksonville Beach police made more than 250 arrests for consuming or possessing alcohol by minors.
Most people understand the seriousness of a DUI arrest and the potential penalties that go with a DUI. For that reason, we make it clear that people should be very careful answering questions and submitting to tests when a police officer is investigating them for DUI.
Most people also think an arrest for underaged drinking or possession of alcohol is very minor. Often, when the police officer makes an “arrest” for this charge, the officer merely gives the person a ticket which is a notice to appear in court at a later date or a notice to set a court date in the future. Technically, this is still considered an arrest on your record. More importantly, the charge of possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor is a second degree misdemeanor crime in Florida which carries a maximum potential penalty of 60 days in jail. It is highly unlikely that you would get anywhere near that kind of jail time for possessing or drinking alcohol as a minor. However, you may simply enter a guilty plea to the charge without realizing that you have just received a misdemeanor conviction on his/her permanent criminal record. Depending on whether the judge adjudicates you guilty or withholds adjudication, you may never be able to seal your criminal record now or in the future.
Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felony crimes, but they can result in a criminal record that can have a negative effect on you in the future when it comes to applying for schools or jobs. If you have questions about how to handle a misdemeanor charge or sealing or expunging a criminal record, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.