Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they're young. As an individual going to college, you'll make mistakes, too. If you went to a party and got caught drinking underage, you're not the first. Fortunately, laws in Michigan have changed, and being in possession for the first time no longer carries a misdemeanor charge. Here are a few things to think about before you go to court for a charge of being a minor in possession.
The law has changed
In 2016, the state House of Representatives changed the Minor in Possession law to make it into a civil infraction instead of a misdemeanor charge. This is good for your record, since you can pay a $100 fine instead of worrying about heading to jail for up to 90 days. The bill passed on a 105-to-1 vote. Second offenses are misdemeanors and punishable with up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. Third offenses have a sentence up to 60 days long a $500 fine. The offender can lose his or her license on a third-offense violation.
You do not have to plead guilty
It's a misconception that you have to plead guilty. Pleading not guilty allows you a chance to work with your attorney and to defend yourself. For instance, perhaps you were in possession while carrying alcohol into a home for a parent or guardian. You shouldn't be accused for that kind of situation. Additionally, if you did drink and were caught, it's still okay to plead not guilty.
The prosecution must prove that you participated in a criminal act. More importantly, what you think you might face in court could be incorrect. The police suggest what the prosecution should charge you with, but the prosecution makes the final determination on the charges it wants to seek against you. If you plead guilty, then you give up your right to fight those charges.
Looking good in court is important
First impressions make a difference. Men should wear dress shirts, ties and slacks. They should look well groomed. That means brushing your hair, minimalizing distractions like earrings and ironing your clothes before court. Women can wear pants, dresses, blazers and other business professional attire. Don't wear sandals or flip flops, whether you're male or female.
Appearances aren't everything, but looking good for a first impression can make a difference. Showing up in court looking hungover or disheveled doesn't do anything good for you, while showing up prepared and cleaned up shows that you are respectful and responsible.
Your attorney can help you prepare for your trial and talk to you about what to expect. Each case is different, and you can work to have yours dismissed or to have the penalties minimized.