I'm posting in order to ascertain some advice about a recent legal situation I ran into in Wisconsin (East Troy for the Dave Matthews Concert specifically). At this point, I've read up on the laws a bit and have sought online reference to see who to contact regarding this situation. I'm a sophomore at school in Illinois and am very interested in law. As such, this event comes as a particular disappointment to me, since it can have ramifications ranging from now (675 dollar tickets and student loans not continuing for one year) until any time in my distant future. I've been operating almost entirely separately from my parents for years now, taking my own motivation as fuel...but this issue stands to change that.
I was at the concert in East Troy, Wisconsin and had arrived later than some of my friends to the show and was thus directed to a different parking lot. I'm 20 years old and from Minnesota, but I attend school in Illinois. Since we were late, we wanted to meet up with them and grabbed a few beers (2 in my pockets) and one in my hand. Two of my other friends had beer on them (one had a beer leaking in the pocket since it had burst in the cooler). All weekend people had been tailgating in the parking lots and there was little or no supervision. Big mistake on my part, but I never imagined that suddenly I'd run into these officers.
Needless to say, I made an error in judgement at the time and I was walking to the other parking lot where my other friends were. We were walking near a camper when one of my friends noticed the beer gushing in his pocket and stopped, saying "Guys, I have to go to the bathroom quick, this is making a mess." Turns out some of the guys sitting at the camper were cops, and it was a Walworth County mobile police unit camper. They heard my friend and stood up, misreading his hesitation as a sign that he was scared of walking past them. They approached us and immediately ushered us towards their camper. Upon getting there, they took the beers and immediately held our hands behind our backs and searched our pockets, while asking if we had ID. We gave them ID and in the process of the search, they found a joint and a little cannabis when searching through my sunglasses case. They immediately wrote up both charges, underage consumption and possession of marijuana. Upon writing all of this up, they released us back to the concert, sans the cannabis and beers, but plus two tickets (one for underage posession/consumption and the other for posession of marijuana) totaling 675 dollars (250 for the minor, the rest for the marijuana).
It was an error in judgement and had I known that random camper was a police unit, i would have never been drinking beer and we planned on hiding the cannabis in a very discrete manner (as the actual search into the concert was rather weak and you actually knew when it was coming). This was the only time and place we ever saw any of these camper units or "more serious" cops.
My questions: #1) Does anything seem wrong with the case? They conducted everything in a very textbook manner, or so it seemed to the naive eye. They were by no means nice but they were professional in conduct.
#2) How long would either of these stay on my record and who can access it? I live in a different state (MN) and go to school in yet another state (IL)...although they're all adjacent.
#3) I know it's a tough question...but I was given a 430 dollar possession ticket plus a 250 dollar underage consumption ticket. I do not need to appear in court, but would it be to my advantage to do so? I have friends that have had lesser charges/fines if they went...but I'm not sure. I'm willing to try everything to get (at least some of) this off my record.
Anyway, apologies for the long write-up, but I wanted to be detailed. Any and all advice/opinions on the issue are welcomed. If you wish to speak more or think I may have a case or a bit of advice (perhaps negotiation? adjudication or deferred sentencing? community service/classes rather than permanent record?), any and all would be welcomed. Thanks much in advance.
These tickets were issued at the same time and they are the only offenses on my record.