In Trouble For Furnishing Liquor To A Minor?

Washington Criminal Defense Attorney Ryan Witt
Furnishing Liquor To A Minor

During the pandemic, many special “stings” and task force programs were put on the back burner. Now that Covid has rounded the two year mark, our office is seeing these less regular cases come back into the forefront. And the local prosecuting authorities have verified that these once popular sting programs are now back up and running.

Who Gets Hit With Charges?

Criminal defendants in Furnishing Liquor to Minor cases are not out looking to join the criminal justice system. Often, they are simply young adults who are entering the workforce with their first job. The opportunity could come from a local pizza place, with a “Server Needed” sign hanging in the door. “No Experience Needed” can equate to not a lot of hands on training about the rules and regulations regarding sales of alcohol.

Enter The Special Agent

The Washington State Patrol doesn’t just write speeding tickets. They hire a few mature looking individuals to go into restaurants and taverns and see who will sell to them. They enter, pick a table, order a beer and pizza, and the trap is set. The probable outcome is that the unsuspecting college age server ends up with a criminal charge.

The Elements Of Furnishing Liquor To A Minor

RCW 66.44.270 states: 

(1) It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control. … A violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

There Are Positive Ways To Resolve A Furnishing Liquor Charge

Furnishing Liquor to a Minor Cases are handled in District and Municipal Courts, as they are Gross Misdemeanors. Being that they are handled in these “lower” Courts, there are typically more options available for resolution than either pleading guilty or going to trial.

Many jurisdictions have some form of Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement, which is essentially a contract between the Defendant and the Prosecuting Attorney. With this type of Diversion Agreement, the Court does not sentence the defendant. Rather, the Court merely approves the contract between the parties. If you abide by the terms of the contract, the Furnishing Liquor charge is typically dismissed at the end of the agreed upon term. Procedurally, the case goes into a long continuance (several months at least) and then ends in a dismissal – there is never a conviction if the terms are met.

The most common term that we see is the requirement to complete is a class hosted by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board called “Responsible Liquor and Tobacco Sales Class.” The other negotiated terms could be payment of a probation assessment and maintain law abiding behavior.

Click here for more information on Pre-Trial Diversion agreements

Hopefully you are never in the position to be charged with this crime. But if you are on the receiving end of a Furnishing Liquor to A Minor Charge in Washington State, give our office a call. We can often have these cases worked out prior to your arraignment date. We have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo, and Gig Harbor for your convenience.