Unlawful Acts - Alcohol

Alcohol to Denver Adults Under 21 - C.R.S. 12-47-901

What does a police officer do if a person gives alcohol to someone over eighteen years old and under twenty-one years? The recipient of the alcohol is not a child, so the charge of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor in Denver, Jefferson or Arapahoe County, C.R.S. 18-6-701, won't fly. Colorado's legislature has created the crime of Unlawful Acts, C.R.S. 12-47-901, which provides: "it is unlawful for any person to sell, serve, give away, dispose of, exchange, or deliver or permit the sale, serving, giving, or procuring of any alcohol beverage to or for any person under the age of twenty-one years." This is a class one misdemeanor, punishable by a county jail sentence. This same statute also makes it illegal to provide alcohol to a "visibly intoxicated person or to a known habitual drunkard".

This Alcohol Possession Law Does Not Make Sense

Colorado's alcohol laws don't make sense. If you are eighteen, you can be arrested and tried as an adult, you can get drafted, you can vote, and you can go to prison. Yet, you can't make the decision to consume alcohol. While other countries have no limitations on alcohol possession and consumption, we are unnecessarily regulating what ADULTS can drink in Adams, Douglas and Larimer County. Note that this crime does not concern any conduct of the eighteen year old other than possession of the alcohol. The individual charged while acting lawfully in every other way.

Two Common Situations Which Result in an Unlawful Acts Alcohol Charge

We commonly see this crime in two scenarios: 1) bartenders failing to "card" younger patrons and serving alcohol to them and, 2) twenty-one year old and older persons serving beer or other alcoholic drinks at private parties. In one instance, we learned of a young woman at a concert who asked a younger friend to hold her beer for a moment while she sorted through her purse. Although the two young women were only months apart, one was over 21 and one was below 21. Police cited both women for the incident: one with Unlawful Acts, and one with Illegal Possession or Consumption of Ethyl Alcohol by an Underage Person, also known as Minor in Possession (MIP), C.R.S. 18-13-122.

Don't let a common occurrence such as serving alcohol to a person who looked over twenty-one destroy your clean criminal record. Defenses are available to this overly strict charge. Contact the experienced criminal trial attorneys at the O'Malley Law Office today at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.

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