Everyone likes to have a good time, and parties are often the best way to get a large group of people together for good food, dancing, and general congregation. However, there are regulations and rules that should be adhered to when organizing a party. In the state of Florida, criminal defense lawyers become necessary when an open house party occurs, especially for minors (people under the age of 18 or 21) and students.
Criminal Defense Attorney: Open House Party in College Can Be Costly
Gainesville is one of the most prominent college towns in the state of Florida (with noteworthy colleges and universities such as the University of Florida and Santa Fe College), and it’s filled with many eager and adventurous students. After intense football games in The Swamp, or after tough interim and final examinations, many students facilitate and/or attend open house parties. Unfortunately, these sort of parties are often unsafe to minors and can have devastating impacts and severe legal implications.
Open House Party Laws
What Is an Open House Party?
In Florida, the crime of hosting an “Open House Party” is governed by Statute 856.015, Florida Statutes. Florida law defines an illegal “open house party” as one where a person has control of any residence and allows a social gathering to take place where alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs are being consumed at the residence by minors and the party host knows or should know that minors are present at the party or did not take reasonable steps to prevent minors from attending a party.
Being in “control” of a residence in layman’s terms usually refers to the party host or residents of the home or apartment. More than one person can be in “control” of the party, such as roommates or fraternity brothers.
This statute is commonly violated in our Gainesville community when students throw open house parties and underage underclassmen attend. If the host of the party knows that someone under the age of 21 is consuming alcohol at his/her party, then he/she can be found in violation of the open house party statute.
In the alternative, if the party host does not know that someone under the age of 21 is consuming alcohol at his/her party, but he/she did not take any steps to prevent underage people from entering the party and accessing his alcohol, then he/she may also be in violation of the open house party statute. For example, if no one is manning the door and checking identification (similar to a bouncer at a bar), and then Gainesville Police Department’s “Party Patrol” shows up and finds 19-20 year olds drinking beer, the party host or owner/renter of the residence can be charged with having an open house party.
Open House Party Penalties
An open house party is an enhanceable offense.
- The first violation is a second degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation and/or a $500 fine.
- Any subsequent violation is a first degree misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail, 12 months of probation, and/or a $1,000 fine.
Law Enforcement may arrest an individual for a violation of this statute or he may issue a notice to appear. Therefore, it is imperative that one contacts an experienced criminal defense attorney for aggressive and sound legal representation.
Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorneys in Gainesville, FL
At the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, our criminal defense lawyers will go above and beyond to protect your after an open house party charge. We understand that, often, it is difficult to monitor who attends a party and what each attendee engages in.
Whether you are a minor who has been charged with an open house party, or whether you are the parent of a child who has been charged with an open house party, you must contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you acquire necessary evidence to prove that there was not a wilful intent to serve alcohol to minors or place an undue harm upon the attendees of the party. As indicated, the penalties for an open house party in Gainesville can be severe, and you will need aggressive defense attorneys to achieve a favorable outcome.
Contact our criminal defense law firm today for a free initial consultation and keen guidance after an open house party arrest.