17-year-old's ticket for alcohol In possession

My 17 year old was ticketed for having alcohol in her possession.  It is a misdemeanor, not an infraction and we are in Contra Costa County.  I am completely fine with most of the consequences ($250 fine for first offense, community service and alcohol abuse classes).  Unfortunately, if she is convicted, it does go on her permanent record as a misdemeanor AND she will lose her driver's license for one year.  

Does anyone have any advice for us?   My ideal outcome is that we agree with the judge that she accepts all the consequences in exchange for dismissing the ticket.  Is this even possible?  Do we need a lawyer?  Any advice from parents who have been in this position would be incredibly helpful.  


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So sorry that your family is caught up in this.  When my son was finally arrested after breaking the law many times, it came as a relief.  He wasn't listening to us about making any changes.  He was lucky enough to get an excellent Public Defender, so there was no need to hire an attorney.  The PD wasn't just about getting my son off; he was all about getting my son to change his viewpoint and his trajectory.  The PD kept us in the loop, checked in frequently with us, and was very happy that we were involved.  I kept in close contact with both the PD and his Probation Officer.  I was grateful for the opportunity and outside motivation to help our kid change.

The good thing about this happening now, is that your daughter will be able to get her record expunged once she completes everything and turns 18.  That way it won't stay on her record.  Our experience was with Alameda County, not Contra Costa.  My understanding is that if a kid is a first-time offender, they want them to understand the seriousness, and change right away, before the pattern or lifestyle becomes ingrained.

Sometimes getting caught turns out to be a blessing and a real-life lesson on how the world views a crime.  Best of luck!

I would suggest getting a lawyer.  Judge can do anything, just was you can wish for anything.  My 17 year old daughter did something dumb involving alcohol, except she was detained.  I take it your daughter was not detained?  Do you know if they will be prosecuting?   First thing is to find out if they will be prosecuting.  My daughter was extremely lucky or I should say the police were very understanding/forgiving as the ticket and police report sat in the police station for over a year and was never forwarded to the DA.  This should the outcome you and your daughter should be wishing for.  I had my daughter check with the DA once a month for the next 13 months just to make sure she was in the clear.  All I can say is thank you to the law enforcement officers for (I think) intentionally losing the ticket and paperwork.

If your daughter is not so lucky you will probably need an attorney and get a plea deal.  What you and your daughter should be concerned about is not losing her license for a year, but what a conviction on her record will do for the rest of her life.  It will always be there.  Applying to college, getting an apartment of worse applying for a job she will have to say she was convicted of a crime.  Does your daughter have a court date?  If so the DA feels this will be an easy case to win and you will need an attorney.  Best thing you can do is stall and draw this out as long as you can with the hopes the DA will forget about it and drop it.

When you daughter and I will assume friends were busted were they jerks to the police?  Or were they polite and respectful?  Your move right now should be to go to the police debarment with your daughter and make an appointment to see the officer and superior, possibly a sergeant or higher and inquiring about the status of the case.  You as the parent should be thanking them.  Your daughter should be very apologetic and brining a plate of chocolate chip cookies  might help.  Make now threats, just be thankful that nothing happened and that you as a parent are involved.  The older the officer the better the chances of being more understanding and more likely to lose or sit on the paperwork.

If that doesn't work, then the following resource should answer all of your questions.  If you do have to hire an attorney do hire one in Contra Costa County who knows the DA.  
https://sa.berkeley.edu/legal/tipsheet/alcohol  One other piece of advice I have to share is teach your daughter strength.  My daughter peers were trying to get her to steal clothing or makeup from stores.  Make sure your daughter knows these kids are not her friends and that she understands the consequences in succumbing to peer pressure.  It's not easy to do at that age.  

Good luck.  Hopefully this was a once in a lifetime occurrence she learned her lesion and gets a pass on this one. That's the way it turned out for my daughter and the experience was actually very good for her.  Try say that when you meet with the police.  

Yes you need a lawyer ASAP! It will be worth the money spent. My son got a DUI when he was 17 and we hired a lawyer who was able to get his record expunged which is really important as you don’t want this to go in any permanent record. Good luck! 

I think it’s worth consulting with a lawyer! A friend of ours has a boy in college in another state & they definitely needed a lawyer! Good luck!


Yes, I have experience with this problem. My 16 year old daughter got a MIP charge this summer. My understanding is that if she follows all the conditions of her informal probation, the misdemeanor will go off her record when she is 18. It was also a first offense for my daughter so the informal probation means it doesn't go to court and that the probation lasts 6 months. I don't think you need a lawyer. Just let her know how serious it can get if she violates the probation conditions.


I'm a public defender; without incurring attorney's client privilege, I'd state the following as a general principle. The first answer is that it is always advisable to have an attorney to represent you in court. So much is at stake and to have a professional safeguard "due process" is very important.

The next issue is whether your child is in juvenile or adult court. If it's the former, there may be an agreement with the court to erase the criminal records once your child completes all the conditions ordered by the court. If it's the latter, please see if she's qualified for a public defender. We handle this type of case all the time; and depending on the facts of a particular matter, we may be able to ask the DA for the following:

1- Diversion: she will enter an agreement to complete a list of required tasks by the DA; if she does, case will be gone. If not, case will be sent back to misdemeanor court for disposition;

2- Reduction of misdemeanor to an infraction charge; in that event, usually there's no probation.

3- If the above options fail, consideration of entry of plea. Attorneys may negotiate for a plea agreement which entails a shorter probationary period; and/or expungement of records once she successfully completes all the probation terms and conditions. N.B  Informal/court probation (i.e. no requirement to report to a probation officer) can last from 1 to 3 years-- and expungement sometimes requires a separate petition from the defense; not automatically granted by the court upon completion of probation.

4- Also, attorneys will be able to evaluate the facts of the case and determine if a jury trial is appropriate. We always evaluate whether the prosecution can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt prior to advising our clients whether or not a plea of guilty is proper.

5-Notes on employment law: Please see the info on the Ca's "ban-the-box-law," which took effect on Jan.1, 2018, regarding details of the circumstances under which a person has to disclose his/her criminal records.

I hope my words are timely and helpful.