Ten employees of St. Johns County businesses are facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly allowing minors to buy alcohol during an undercover operation by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Police sent either a 16-year-old boy or a 17-year-old girl into local gas stations, liquor stores and restaurants and the teens attempted to purchase alcohol, according to a report in the St. Augustine Record. If they were asked for identification, the teens were instructed to provide their driver’s license, which shows their actual age.
Of the 37 businesses, the teens were sold alcohol at 10 locations, the newspaper reported. Eight of the clerks checked for identification and, despite seeing the teen was at least four years too young, sold the alcohol anyway, the newspaper reported. Two employees did not check ID at all. The employees who sold the alcohol were all charged with selling alcohol to a minor, a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The maximum penalty is 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a $500 fine. Local law enforcement agencies conduct similar investigations at peak times during the year and jail time is rare in these types of St. Johns County Misdemeanor Cases. The purpose seems more to let people know police are watching and to encourage clerks to follow the law and prohibit minors from buying alcohol by making them aware they can be held criminally liable if they sell to someone under 21.
The operation was conducted March 29 and April 1, right at the end of spring break for local schools. This is a prime time for these types of operations, as are the next few months with graduation season upon us. Police often crack down on underage drinking and open house parties at this time of the year and parents and store clerks can be held personally criminally liable if they are associated at all with underage drinking. Just because a person is charged with a misdemeanor and is not facing a lengthy prison sentence does not mean the crime is not serious and doesn’t warrant the expertise of an experience St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney. Misdemeanor convictions can affect a person’s ability to get a job, and job applicants are often required to list if they have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to a crime. In many St. Johns County Misdemeanor Cases, if a defendant agrees to complete certain conditions of probation, and does so successfully, adjudication can be withheld, meaning while an arrest will show up on a person’s record, a conviction will not.
Our St. Johns County Misdemeanor Crimes attorney has represented thousands of people on misdemeanor charges and knows if it’s you or your loved one in front of the judge, there’s no such thing as a minor charge. If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.