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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    Hi I'm new to the board, but I have a question(s).

    On January 8th, I was with friends, ages between 16 and 27 (I'm 25) and we always go to this park (skatepark) in our town (Downey,CA) and so one day one of my friends was like we should have margarita Monday. Well that did not end up happening. We instead got some flavored Vodka. Now we were sitting on the grass in a big group and my friend made the drinks. Only a few people took sips and did not like it, so we packed everything up in a bag and there were two cups and we just went to sit by the benches and watched people skateboard and talked.

    Well next thing we know the park ranger called the cops, who came and asked us who was drinking. Well one by one we had to explain what we were doing with the alcohol. I told the officer that we brought it from home (although it was brought from the store by me for me to drink but my friends wanted to drink as well) and that a few people drunk some (including myself). Mind you the cups were still full because nobody liked the drink and NOBODY was drunk AT ALL!

    So the officer gave me a ticket for consuming alcohol in public (misdemeanor), thumb printed me (he said for records), took the alcohol bottle and let me leave and now I have to go to court in a month. I have no misdemeanors on my record at all. All I have is a ticket from last month for not properly wearing my seatbelt. I have never been to court or anything. This is my first time. I have always obeyed the law but I used bad judgement this time (I assumed it was ok because many people have had BBQ's there and have drunk alcohol out in the open before and nothing was done).

    I want to know what is the consequence? The officer told me if you have a clean record, then you get probabtion or a fine but no jail time. What exactly is a clean record?? Like I said I have a traffic ticket for the seatbelt. The officer did not put "purchase alcohol for minor" or anything like that on the ticket but just "4103 DMC (this part under code and section)-consume alcohol in public place." I am worried because my friend told him she purchased it with her emt card or some card and I said we brought it from home.

    Also I am in college (not working, so I can finish my last semester) and I get financial aid (which I plan on using if I have to pay a fine for this). Will this stop my school from giving me financial aid? (I go to a Cal Sate school).

    I know it was stupid and this will never happen AGAIN!!! I have not even been back to the park.


    Any help is appreciated..THANK YOU.

    N.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    You were cited for a low level misdemeanor generally punished as an infraction (by a fine only).

    Downey Municipal Code section 4103:

    For the purposes of this chapter “alcoholic beverages” shall mean and include alcohol, spirits, liquor, wine, beer, and every liquid or solid containing alcohol, spirits, wine, or beer, and which contains one-half (1/2) of one percent or more of alcohol by volume, and which is fit for beverage purposes, either alone or when diluted, mixed, or combined with other substances.

    No person while in or on any public school ground, public school building, public building, or grounds belonging to the State, County, or other governmental entity or agency, shall have in his possession or consume any alcoholic beverage.

    No person while in or on any unenclosed area designed or used, or intended to be used, for the parking of motor vehicles and which parking area is used in conjunction with or as any adjunct to any business, trade, or occupation for which a business license has been issued or is required to be issued pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 2 of Article VI of this Code, shall consume any alcoholic beverage nor have upon his person, nor in his personal possession, any container containing an alcoholic beverage, which container has been opened. (Amended by ORD. 211, adopted 11-13-62)


    I did not spend much time searching the code for a penalty, but it appears that if they charge this as an infraction (and they almost certainly will) you will be responsible for a $100 fine if you had no prior alcohol offenses there.

    The DMC can be found here:

    http://qcode.us/codes/downey/

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    The penalty will be minimal, as already pointed out. No jail time.

    Even with this on your record, I highly doubt that Cal State will cancel your financial aid, as this is not a very serious crime.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    Thank you both for responding to my post.

    Do either of you (or anyone else who can answer) know where I can find what the penalty will be if in court I am tried for a misdemeanor instead of an infraction?


    Thank you again.

    N.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    According to my cursory read of the Downey Muni code, it is a $100 infraction. By definition it could not be tried as a misdemeanor unless they change the offense.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    Ok so when you say change the offense, you mean charge me for another offense other than consumption of alcohol in a public place (4103)?

    Can they change the offense?

    Also do you think it affects school financial aid (school loan) and will this be on my record preventing me from finding work?


    Sorry but I am very worried.

    Thank you again

    N.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    Quote Quoting Downey81
    Ok so when you say change the offense, you mean charge me for another offense other than consumption of alcohol in a public place (4103)?

    Can they change the offense?
    With sufficient notice, yes. However, they should have no reason to do so.

    This is NOT a big deal if you don't avoid responsibility. It's a big, whopping nothing. Heck, most traffic citations have heftier fines!

    Also do you think it affects school financial aid (school loan) and will this be on my record preventing me from finding work?
    I would doubt it. You would hardly be the first college student to be cited for having an open container and drinking in public.


    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    See that is what I am worried about. What is the possibility of them changing the offense since some of the people involved were minors?

    Another question, do you know how it will be court, like will the judge ask questions? I plan to plead guilty or say yes that I take responsibility.

    Thanks.


    N.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    15,371

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    Quote Quoting Downey81
    See that is what I am worried about. What is the possibility of them changing the offense since some of the people involved were minors?
    About as likely as my becoming a write-in candidate for Senator.

    Another question, do you know how it will be court, like will the judge ask questions? I plan to plead guilty or say yes that I take responsibility.
    Your first hearing will be the arraignment where the charges will be read to you and you will be given the opportunity to enter a plea. The judge will likely ask only about the plea and not about the details ... at least not until after you plead "guilty", and likely not even then.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Alcohol consumption in public misdemeanor, in California

    So since this is a small city (Downey), there is only a judge in the court, right?


    Details? Like why I had the alcohol? Do I just say what I said to the officer, that it was brought from home ? I mean most likely the judge would assume it was brought from my home since I'm of legal age, therefore making it possible for the judge to charge me with providing alcohol for minors, is that correct?


    Thanks.


    N.

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