What is the best defense against receiving a misdemeanor ticket for minor consumption in Minnesota? As every person under the age of 21 knows, it is against the law for you to consume alcohol in Minnesota. The only exception to the rule is when you are granted permission by your parents to drink at home. This almost never happens. More likely than not, you are at a concert or house party and decide to drink alcohol, hoping not to get caught.
        What can you do to reduce the odds of a conviction? Let’s say you are at a house party having a good time when a neighbor calls the police complaining of a loud party. The next thing you know the police are knocking at the door.  The owner should go to the door, open it, but not too far. You don’t want the police to see anything inside the house such as intoxicated minors, scattered beer bottles, or controlled substances. Plain view observations of illegal activity may create probable cause for a police entry into the house party without your permission or even a search warrant. If the police officer asks for your consent to enter, simply say no, not without a warrant.  This is your constitutional right. Consent to enter is one way the police can avoid the time delay involved in obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.
        Let’s say it’s too late and the police gain access to the house party. Officers will begin to question anyone looking under the age of 21. The first questions a police officer will ask you is whether or not you have been drinking alcohol.  If you say yes, you have just made an “admission” against your own interest. The officer can now testify at trial that you admitted to drinking alcohol. The next question will be about your age.  If you admit that you are under 21, you have just made your second admission against your own interest. The police know that a prosecutor needs to prove that you are under 21 before you can be convicted. You are under no legal obligation to respond to police questioning. You have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. Use it.
         Finally, the police will ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test. Minnesota law allows for the results of a preliminary breath test to be used against you in court during a prosecution for minor consumption. The proof of the presence of any amount of alcohol in your system, no matter how small, is powerful evidence against you.  Why provide the prosecution with valuable evidence that will only be used to convict you?  You don’t have to incriminate yourself. Politely refuse a police request to submit to the preliminary breath test. This quiet refusal will weaken the State’s case against you and provide you with The Best Defense.
        If you have been charged with minor consumption or any other crime, you should hire a skilled Minneapolis criminal defense attorney to defend your freedom. Robert J. Shane has over 27 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney and will use his experience to provide you with The Best Defense. For more information and tips for suspects in a criminal case, or to discuss your case, please call Robert J. Shane at (612) 339-1024 or visit my website at www.criminallawyerminnesota.com.
“The Best Defense”
900 IDS Center
80 South 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: (612) 339-1024
Fax: (612) 455-4574