I recently represented a Kutztown University student on a citation for underage drinking. Pennsylvania’s underage drinking statute, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308, actually covers “purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation” of alcohol. Although it is a relatively minor summary offense that is most often punishable by a fine, most young people, including my client, want to avoid having any type of “record”, including one for underage drinking. This is especially important in the case of a successful college student with a bright future ahead of him. Furthermore, although Pennsylvania law allows for an expungement of an underage drinking citation upon reaching 21 years of age, my client didn’t want to wait until his 21st birthday to have his record expunged; he didn’t want any type of record at all.
In this case, several students were issued citations by campus police for underage drinking in my client’s dorm room. Additionally, one student, who was over 21, was charged with supplying alcohol to minors, which is a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania state law. Although there was no evidence that my client was even drinking that night, he was issued a citation for “constructively possessing” the alcohol that was present in his college dorm room.
After a long hearing in front of the Magistrate, which included over 5 witnesses, my client was found guilty. Based on the facts presented at the hearing, I strongly disagreed with the ruling. After discussing it with my client, I filed an appeal at the Berks County Court of Common Pleas that same day. Although I would have liked to have had the opportunity argue the case again at the higher court, my client and I ultimately decided that the best course of action would be to enter into the accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program.
At the hearing, my client did not have to plead guilty or admit any guilt. He was placed on informal supervision for a few months and must complete community service. After he successfully completes ARD, any information related to the case will be expunged, and there will be no formal record of his charges. The entire incident will be a thing of the past well before my client starts applying for internships for the upcoming summer.
Most importantly, my client was very satisfied with the outcome of his case.