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Spring Break Offenses in Walton County, Florida 2015: Minor In Possession of Alcohol

For Walton County, Florida the weekend of February 28, 2015 earmarked the first of many large scale college spring break weeks, where college students embark on local communities like Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Seaside and 30A.  The college spring break population, generates a spike  in the number of persons (spring breakers) arrested or cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol (also referred to as Minor in Possession), Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses such as drug offenses. Speaking with a source at the State Attorney’s Office this week, last years’ number of citations for Underage Possession of Alcohol alone had reached tallied approximately 1000.  (This Number does not include those cases that have since been successfully sealed or expunged from the record). This nearly doubled the 600 citations from 2012 and appears to be on par to those numbers from 2013.  As a result of the increase in citations issued in recent years, and the general perception from law enforcement and the community alike that spring break has reached its tipping point, the Walton County Sheriff’s Office has renewed its vow  to crack down on college students again this year and will continue in its policy decision to arrest Underage Possession of Alcohol offenders rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear as in years past.  Just today the W.C.S.O. issues a spring break message on its social media outlets  Here is the link to review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOhsbiOHQIU#t=30

Here is also the  story from March, 2014 in the local Walton Sun: http://www.waltonsun.com/news/walton-county-to-take-aggressive-stand-during-spring-break-1.284022?tc=cr

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The most common offense for college students is ”Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″ (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111. For an individual who has received a citation for minor in possession(MIP), the law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage.

A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license. In some counties (e.g. Walton County), subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear or goes to jail for Underage Possession of Alcohol or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a local Walton County criminal defense lawyer. An attorney may be able to assist the individual in obtaining pretrial diversion or a deferred prosecution so the student may be able to avoid a conviction. Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense. In fact, some law enforcement officers in the past have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications. For more on past articles for Walton County Spring Break visit the links posted below or visit the Northwest Florida Daily News or Walton Sun for more information http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/spring-offers-no-break-for-deputies-gallery-1.110236 http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236 _MG_0261clr_web-1

1238332_1307321658Jeremy S. Keich is a local Walton County criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach. As a  criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Keich has helped clients successfully resolve these spring break  and alcohol related offenses. If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Walton County, Florida Spring Break 2013: Underage Possession and Open House Parties

imagesCAR64OHSSaturday, March 9, 2013, earmarked  the first major spring break week for local communities and law enforcement in Walton County and Okaloosa County.  Students from the southeast, midwest and beyond embarked to the Emerald Coast  for their brief vacation from their respective college or  university.  With the increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic as a result of spring break, local attorneys also see and increase in the issuance of Notices to Appear (or Arrests) for Underage Possession of Alcohol, Open House Parties, DUI, and other criminal offenses.

I wrote last year that one spring break weekend alone, per the local newspaper, generated in excess of four hundred citations issued for minor criminal offenses such as Minors in Possession of Alcohol.  This year the numbers seem to be headed the same direction.  This past weekend’s increased law enforcement presence culminated in the Monday afternoon arrest of over thirty college students at a house in Miramar Beach (Walton County, Florida).  Most of the individuals arrested were cited for Underage Possession of Alcohol,  Others were cited for Open House Party.   All were taken to the Walton County Jail.  A link to the Northwest Florida Daily News Article is provided here:

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/local/32-spring-breakers-arrested-at-house-party-1.109236

Unique to this situation is that law enforcement made actual arrests in this instance (rather than simply issuing the Notice to Appear).  As a result, most (if not all) of these individuals will be greeted with  their mugshot being displayed on a variety of internet search engines.  Due to the alleged damage to the residence, and the publicity received, it is yet to be seen how local authorities will elect to handle these cases.

The most common offense for college students is ”Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″  (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111.  In fact, earlier today I learned that just this weekend alone, nearly two hundred notices to appear were issued by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office Beach Patrol Division for this offense.

For an individual who has received a citation for minor in possession(MIP), the law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”dui  picture

Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage.  See: http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/spring-48251-beach-breaker.html

A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license.  In some counties, subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear for Minor in Possession or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a Destin criminal defense lawyer.  An attorney may be able to assist the individual in obtaining pretrial diversion or a deferred prosecution so the student may be able to avoid a conviction.

Some students, or parents of students, are unaware that the payment of the fine will result in the criminal charge remaining on the individual’s criminal history, unless he or she is subsequently eligible to expunge or seal the offense.    In fact, some internet gurus who provide “legal advice” have suggested that the individual simply pay the fine since the fine is only $250.00, but failed to explain the potential ramifications.

_MG_0261clr_web-1Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with an office in Miramar Beach (Walton County).  As a Walton County criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

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