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Statewide Representation Throughout Alabama (205) 871-8838
Free Professional Consultations 24 hours a DayToll Free: (205) 222-4544
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Any criminal conviction can have a long-lasting and negative impact on a young person’s life. Because minors may not fully understand the impact of their actions, state law allows some minors charged with a crime to be reclassified as “youthful offenders.”

This reclassification allows a minor’s criminal case to be adjudicated rather than prosecuted. In such cases, a young person may avoid more serious penalties and a criminal record. However, not every minor charged with a crime is allowed by the court to avoid prosecution in this manner.

The best way to ensure a minor is considered a youthful offender, and potentially avoid a criminal conviction, is to contact a Gulf Shores student defense lawyer. A skilled defense lawyer can help protect a young person’s rights and reputation, allowing them to move forward with their bright future.

Youthful Offender Status in Alabama Courts

One way state law tries to mitigate the harmful impact a conviction can have on a minor is by allowing youthful offenders to go through adjudication, rather than the full criminal process. This adjudication process focuses on helping and rehabilitating juvenile offenders, rather than simply punishing them.

Minors under the age of 21 who are facing criminal charges can request to be reclassified as youthful offenders. This means they no longer face traditional criminal prosecution, though youthful offenders do still face legal penalties. Typically, youthful offenders face lighter penalties if found guilty than adults would face upon conviction for the same crime.

The court may grant or deny a defendant’s request to be considered a youthful offender based on the alleged crime, and the situation at hand. Importantly, youthful offenders will not have a criminal record, even if the court finds them guilty of a crime.

Underage Drinking Charges in Gulf Shores

One of the most common criminal charges young people in Gulf Shores face is possession or consumption of alcohol. Many teenagers and young adults are unaware that state law criminalizes underage drinking.

Alabama Code Section 28-1-5 not only prohibits underage drinking, but it also provides criminal penalties for those who violate the law. Anyone found guilty of breaking this law faces fines between $25 and $100, as well as a jail sentence up to 30 days. Minors under the age of 18 may be sentenced to a juvenile facility instead of jail.

DUI Charges for Driver Under 21

Another common charge Gulf Shores student defense attorneys see related to underage drinking is driving under the influence (DUI). In some cases, underage drinkers may be found behind the wheel. In Alabama, any driver under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or higher is legally intoxicated. This threshold is lower than the intoxication for adults over the age of 21.

This means that even if a driver is over 18 years old but under 21, they could still face a DUI charge with a BAC of just 0.02%. Depending on the driver’s level of intoxication, they face stiff penalties upon conviction, including:

  • 30-day license suspension
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines between $500 and $2,000

Alcohol-related convictions can be particularly detrimental for young people as many colleges and universities record these convictions on a student’s academic record. If someone’s son or daughter is facing an underage drinking, DUI, or related charge, they should contact a Gulf Shores student defense lawyer today.

Working with a Gulf Shores Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Criminal offenses while an individual is a minor can have serious penalties and an impact on your future. If your son or daughter is facing a criminal charge, or you are concerned with how a conviction could affect their future opportunities, contact Gulf Shores student defense attorneys today.