How likely is it that I'll get jail time? 15 Answers as of July 11, 2013

I had a party and had a bunch of friends over, and some of there friends, like parties go. Some of the people there were under 21. We had a keg and were charging for cups. I guess the neighbors got annoyed because they called the cops on us and found out that we were selling beers to minors (adults, age 18-20). Is this serious? I have a court date next week. How much time am I facing and do I need to hire an attorney or public defender?

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Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
This is not a particularly serious offense under the circumstances, but I realize it is important to you, and depending on your age, could have some incidental consequences. You can always consult with, or hire a lawyer. If you cannot afford to do this, and your charge is at least a misdemeanor, the court will appoint the public defender to represent you. Without knowing the exact charge, I cannot tell you what you are facing specifically, but I can tell you that sentencing is a function of many factors, and barring some aggravating factors, you probably do not need to worry about significant jail time.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/10/2013
William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
Your charge papers should indicate the maximum penalty for each of your charges. Even the first time offender, who has no record, might receive the maximum penalty. Ultimately, sentencing it depends on the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's record, mitigation, allocution, and the judge. Even if no jail time were imposed, you might have a permanent conviction, and it might influence whether employers, landlords, and lenders do business with you in the future. The only difference between Public defenders and private attorneys, is that you do not get to choose whom the public defender appoints to represent you. Whether you have an attorney at all depends on whether you are comfortable that you know the law, procedure, rules of evidence, prosecutor, and Judge well enough to risk having a permanent criminal record and possibly serving time.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 1/11/2013
Law Office of Eric S. Lumberg | Eric S. Lumberg
You should always have an attorney represent you and look at the case. Your rights will be protected and options discussed.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/11/2013
R. Jason de Groot, P.A
R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
You are probably facing up to a year in the county jail. It would be best to hire an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 1/11/2013
Lawrence Lewis
Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
Jail time will depend on your prior record.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 1/11/2013
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Jail should be the least of your concerns. You need to worry about getting a criminal record that will kill your career aspirations. Hire a lawyer before you get talked into a plea that you will regret for life.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/11/2013
    Downing Law Firm | George E Downing. Jr.
    There is a possibility of jail time. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court can appoint one for you.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Ascheman & Smith | Landon Ascheman
    Yes, this is a serious offense, I would suggest you contact a criminal defense attorney in your area as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Edward D. Flint  PLLC
    Edward D. Flint PLLC | Edward D. Flint
    In Utah, Kegs are illegal, so you must have gotten from Wyoming or some other state, so another charge you are facing is bootlegging. Alcohol to a minor (under 21) is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and nearly $5000 in fines and surcharges, for each minor served. If you are in Salt Lake County and have no prior record, it is unlikely you will do any jail, but outside of Salt Lake County, you will probably be facing some jail time. Public defenders outside of Salt Lake and Utah counties are contract attorneys who may not provide you with adequate defenses or spend any time with you.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    It depends on your record.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    You should always retain an experienced criminal lawyer when you are charged with an offense that could result in jail time and a permanent conviction. Do not make any statements to the police. Contact an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/11/2013
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes it can be serious and yes you should get a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    Unlikely that you'll get real jail time if you're willing to do whatever the court order you to do (that is, comply with probation). Of course, we don't even know the specifics of the allegations against you, so it's impossible for anyone to make any accurate predictions at this point. It is almost always preferable to hire a private attorney if you can afford to do so.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    It is serious and you do need a lawyer. You must hire a lawyer unless you are indigent which means you do not have property.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 1/10/2013
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Although you are probably not facing jail time, it would be advisable to retain a lawyer, or ask for the public defender to represent you, as you should try and keep this arrest off your permanent criminal record, assuming you have a clean prior record. ?If you have a bad background, you could be facing jail time.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/10/2013
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