As part of a state-wide sting operation, authorities issued thirty four citations over the weekend to Orange County locals caught in the act of buying minors alcohol. Although currently considered a successful campaign, the actions taken by participating police departments may be called into question for those who wish to fight their charges in court. According to reports, the sting lasted from Saturday morning to Sunday morning to try and catch offenders around the holiday. In total, 544 arrests and citations were issued throughout the state of California.
Local police departments utilized minors through various means to use them as decoys. The police would have the children stand outside of stores and ask people going in to buy them alcohol. Those who did purchase alcohol on the minor’s behalf would then be apprehended by undercover officers and cited for furnishing beer and/or alcohol to minors. Many of the children involved were police cadets, college criminal justice majors, and members of youth groups who indicated that they were underage.
Whether or not this tactic was legal is debatable. There are instances where sting operations can “cross the line” of what types of undercover operations are allowed under California law. In some cases, a defendant may argue that they would not have bought beer or alcohol for a minor had they not been tricked into doing so by handling officers. If the available evidence supports such a theory and a judge and/or jury accepted it as being true, a defendant may be able to have their case dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict.
If convicted, those facing charges could be ordered to pay $1,000 and provide proof of community service, but for many, the true loss is the misdemeanor on their criminal record. There are numerous jobs that do not allow any of their employees to have any type of criminal conviction on their record. So for some, any type of conviction can lead to a loss of employment. For others, losing their ability to own a weapon or hunting license may be a significant loss.
If you or someone you know was cited as one of those involved in this sting, you may have the opportunity to fight the charges depending upon your specific circumstances. If authorities did not properly conduct their investigation, a skilled lawyer may be able to expose these flaws. Call (888) 250-2865 to obtain a free case evaluation from one of our skilled attorneys. We can help you better understand your charges and penalties with no obligation to retain.