It may seem like a good idea to host a get-together with your teenage child and his or her peers that involves alcohol. After all, if kids are going to party, you would rather they did so under your supervision so you can make sure nobody drives home intoxicated or has an unsafe amount to drink. However, intentionally providing alcohol to minors can result in serious legal and criminal consequences for you and other Pennsylvania residents – no matter how good your intentions are.

According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, those who knowingly purchase, furnish or sell alcohol to minors under the age of 21 can face a misdemeanor criminal charge. The penalties are steep, including a fine of at least $1,000 for the first violation and higher penalties for subsequent offenses.

Does this mean you have no possible defense or recourse if you find yourself facing such charges? Not necessarily. The following examples are some defenses for furnishing alcohol to a minor that may reduce or eliminate penalties:

  • The minors had ID cards that looked legitimate and showed them as being over age 21.
  • A small amount of alcohol was provided for religious or medicinal purposes.
  • The minor was your own child and you provided a drink only to him or her in your own home, with your permission and supervision.
  • The child or children drank alcohol in your home without your knowledge or permission while you were not present.

It is wise to seriously consider the consequences before consenting to give alcohol to minors. In addition to the above misdemeanor charge, you may face charges related to any accidents, injuries or property damage resulting from minors drinking alcohol that you knowingly provided. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding any criminal charge, you have the right to a competent and fair defense.