Being charged with throwing an open house party can lead to many consequences, including a criminal conviction and possible jail time. Many times, charges for open house party stem from graduation or other parties where minors are present, including college parties where some of the students are under 21. If you or a loved one is charged with open house party, contact an aggressive criminal defense lawyer today to make sure your future is not impacted by this charge.
Under Florida Statute 856.015, the crime of open house party is defined as follows: “a person having control of any residence may not allow an open house party to take place at the residence if any alcoholic beverage or drug is possessed or consumed at the residence by any minor where the person knows that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in the possession of or being consumed by a minor at the residence and where the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug.”
Based on this definition, the prosecutor has to prove the following 5 elements beyond a reasonable doubt: • The defendant had control over the residence where the party took place
The defendant allowed a party to take place
There were minors at the party who consumed drugs or alcohol
The defendant knew that minors were consuming drugs or alcohol
And despite knowing this, the defendant did not take reasonable measures to prevent the minors from consuming drugs or alcohol.
Under Florida law a party includes any type of social gathering of several people and a minor is anybody under the age of 21 who is not legally able to consume or possess alcohol.
Open house party can be either a 2nd or 1st degree misdemeanor. If you are charged for the first time with throwing an open house party and no injuries resulted from the incident, you would be guilty of a 2nd degree misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by up to 60 days in jail, 6 months of probation and/or a $500 fine. If this is your second time being charged with open house party or your acts resulted in any kind of injury, (even if this is your first offense) you would be guilty of a 1st degree misdemeanor and potentially face 1 year in jail or probation and/or a $1,000 fine. Even if you are guilty and have no defense to the charges, your attorney may be able to negotiate an outcome with the state attorney that would prevent a criminal conviction and sometimes even a so-called diversion program that could result in a dismissal of the charges.
The prosecutor has to prove many elements beyond a reasonable in order to obtain a successful conviction for open house party. An experienced criminal defense attorney can attack the prosecutor’s evidence by attacking one or more elements of the charge. For example the defense can argue that the defendant did not have control of the residence where the party took place or the defense can argue that the defendant did not know that minors where consuming alcohol or frugs or the defendant can argue that he or she took reasonable measures to prevent minors from consuming alcohol or drugs. Even if the prosecutor is unable to prove only one out of the 5 elements, the defendant would be not guilty.
If you or a loved one is charged with open hose party, it is important to hire an experienced Tampa criminal defense lawyer to make sure that your rights are preserved. Hiring an attorney will also give you the best chances of achieving a favorable outcome and make sure these charges will not affect your future. Kerstin Wade has an office in downtown Tampa and has been representing people in Hillsborough County, Manatee, Sarasota and Polk Counties for over 10 years. Call us today at 813-401-0130 for a free consultation to see how Kerstin Wade can help you.