Legal Question
May 3, 2004 3:16 AM   Subscribe

Legal question time! I hosted a party, and I was charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, section ORS 471.410, Oregon Law. Problem is, I am not 21. More inside. (Note: Any advice will not be referred as legal guidance.)

On saturday, I hosted a party with approximately 40 people. At 11:00Pm, I recieved a noise complaint and the officers walked around outside. I walked outside and presented myself, telling them no one under 21 was in the home. The officers told me some kids said I gave them alcohol, which I denied. They then asked to speak to my brother (17 years old). I said I would be right back, and went inside. The people inside said they did not know where my brother was.

I walked outside and told them this. The officers stayed outside. approximately 1 minute later, I asked a patron who was over 21 to leave, as he had slapped my brother earlier. As he left, he walked up to the officers and told them my brother was in the house.

The officers came to my door and asked to come inside. I told them they could not. One officer pushed me out of the way, and I asked for all of their names and wrote this information down. A door was locked and they told me to open it. I told them I did not have the key (which I didn't) and they moved me to another room.

They then forced the door open, and my brother was in there. There is damage to the door where this happened, and I will soon be taking pictures. My brother and I were led outside. I asked my brother if the cops opened the door, and he said yes. At this point the officers handcuffed me and put me in the back of the patrol car.

I never received my "yellow slip", I only know what my charge is because it is on my release form.

If my ticket indeed states a furnishing alcohol misdemeanor, and I am not 21 years of age, what are my rights? I have looked around on FindLaw and Google but I can't find anything rock solid.
posted by Keyser Soze to Law & Government (61 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You know you're going to get the "you need to talk with an attorney" answer, aren't you?

IANAL, but I doubt it matters that you are underage regarding the furnishing alcohol to a minor charge. Because, you know, that's what they think you did. And, if they knew your brother was a minor, and they had reason to believe that alcohol was being consumed by him, then I suppose that they had probable cause to go inside ('cause they thought a crime was being committed).

If you didn't give alcohol to him (or whoever), or, um, you want to claim that you didn't; you of course have the option of pleading not guilty and trying to prove your innocence. But given that you are underage and it looks like you lied to the police, I wouldn't expect a judge or jury to be sympathetic. Would you?

If you've got a clean record, then it might be best to be contrite and just accept a probated sentence. But I repeat, I'm not a lawyer and this is all uninformed speculation based upon my limited knowledge, experience, and, er, television. You should talk to a lawyer.

As you know from the last time around (it was you, wasn't it?), no attorney here can actually answer your question in any way whatsoever given that you've provided details of the case. So all you're going to get is ignorant hand-waving like mine, or silence from those qualified.

Finally...bummer. That sounds like it really sucked and you have my sympathy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:52 AM on May 3, 2004

Oh, by the way, generally you're SOL on any damage by the police when they force entry, or whatever.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:01 AM on May 3, 2004

One way of thinking about this is : whatever rights you might technically have in the situation, you're most likely to enjoy those rights to the fullest with a good lawyer (cue greek chorus : a lawyer, he needs a lawyer). But if you can't afford one, the worst case scenario in any case is probably probation. And look at it this way - no one got hurt and, if it's an issue later on when you're applying for a job (or whatever), you can always play the "youthful indiscretion" card.
posted by troutfishing at 5:16 AM on May 3, 2004

I hosted a party : That's why you were charged.

What are your rights? "You have the right to remain silent, ..."

What you seek are loopholes; what you need is a lawyer.
posted by mischief at 5:18 AM on May 3, 2004

What is your question? Your rights? You know about the constitution right? Or the bill of rights? Or the local laws in your state?

Or are you looking for how to beat the rap? In that case, this isn't where to look.
posted by loquax at 5:20 AM on May 3, 2004

I looked up the statute you are charged under (scroll down about 2/3). Subsection (2) appears to be the bit that applies to you: it says, "No one other than the person’s parent or guardian shall sell, give or otherwise make available any alcoholic liquor to a person under the age of 21 years. " I'm not a lawyer either, but as far as I can tell, "person" means ANYBODY, regardless of age. If it didn't, there would be something saying so.

I agree with everyone else who is chanting "get a lawyer," not so much because of this particular crime but because, from the way you've phrased your question, I get the idea you think that the police somehow violated your rights, or that you are being unfairly charged. A lawyer can help you sort through the details of what happened and you will learn a great deal which may be useful in the future. Good luck; this must be very scary for you.
posted by JanetLand at 5:44 AM on May 3, 2004

I've never seen a cop tear down a door for a minor in possession. Seems a little extreme. It seems there was more going on then you're telling us, not because you're hiding it but because you just may deem it not important.

I don't know how the cops justified going inside the house without a warrent. I know cops can enter a house if a crime is being committed, but a minor in posession is such a... well minor charge in the eyes of the law. I thought there had to be some clear danger or a major crime being committed for a warrentless search. I don't know how much you actually talking to them gave away your rights (first mistake, if you're doing something like this, lock the doors and let no one in and out till the standoff ends).

Other than that, without a snappy lawyer you're SOL. My lawyer friend once told me police will lie to cover their asses. Not that police are corrupt, but just that it will basically be your word against theirs and they'll change their word if they have to (oh they thought your brother was in serious danger, etc.). He said he's seen it before with situations like these (though I did not ask him about yoru paticular situation, this was a while back I talked to him).

Actually I'm surprised you did not get a minor in consumption/possession charge. I have no idea what providing alcohol to a minor entails, but I bet it doesn't require random piss tests for alcohol, maybe for drugs... but I doubt it. I think it'll be a fancy slap on the wrists.

Please do update us.
posted by geoff. at 6:16 AM on May 3, 2004

Just one thing to add here, Ethereal Bligh said, "you of course have the option of pleading not guilty and trying to prove your innocence" - the burden should be the other way around, the state will need to prove you are guilty.
posted by vito90 at 6:19 AM on May 3, 2004

Yeah, right. Sorry to sound cynical.

I imagine that since something was reported to the police apparently about Keyser's bro, he apparently lied to them that bro wasn't home, they were told by someone else that that was a lie, and it really pissed them off and a minor crime became sufficient justification for an intrusion. It's a really, really bad idea to lie to the police, especially if there's any chance you'll get caught. Asserting one's rights shouldn't be cause for suspicion (see the recent SCOTUS case about this), but being caught in a lie certainly is. And, again, if this is the case, a judge and/or jury won't see that in a favorable light.

However, if all they got out of it was your furnishing alcohol charge—and not the drug charges they probably were hoping for—then being as this was your brother, the whole thing could appear to be pretty innocent and surely (assuming you've a clean record) only cause for a mild slap on the wrist.

I'm curious, are you a racial or ethnic minority? I'm a white guy who's had a fair number of encounters with the police and in white-guy-context, they've always been very nice. In a few not-white-guy-contexts (say, a party in the barrio where I was the only anglo), I saw a whole different side of the police than I'd ever seen.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:40 AM on May 3, 2004

I say challenge the validity the law itself, which seems to me a clear violation of your human rights: whatever happened to the "pursuit of happiness"? Failing that, abscond to a country where people are allowed to drink in peace without police raids on private parties. Or, talk to a lawyer.
posted by cbrody at 6:44 AM on May 3, 2004

Not trying to sound like the buzzkill grownup, but maybe you should stay away from alcohol until you're 21. You've already had friends get into serious trouble over it, and you have talked about wanting to homebrew a keg or own a brewery. Perhaps some caution might be in order.

And get a lawyer, and good luck.
posted by Vidiot at 6:50 AM on May 3, 2004

Consider yourself lucky that you didn't get charged with lying to a police officer. Get a lawyer. Who knows, maybe a lawyer can get a judge to rule that the fruits of the search (i.e. your brother) can not be used because the search was illegal. Don't try to figure out yourself why it might have been illegal, get professional help.
posted by caddis at 7:59 AM on May 3, 2004

Why did you lie to the cops and tell them 'no one under 21 was home' when you yourself are under 21? It spells an ill defense. The first godamn thing you siad to them was a easily disproven lie. Not the grandest of openings.

There are some situations where there is no 'out'. This may be one of them.
posted by Dagobert at 8:00 AM on May 3, 2004

if you're doing something like this, lock the doors and let no one in and out till the standoff ends

I'm not a lawyer either, but I have a problem with the "let no one out" part. If someone wants out and you stop them, isn't that criminal confinement?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:21 AM on May 3, 2004

I'm not convinced that escalating one's alcohol-related peccadillos into a "standoff" with police is a good idea, period. Going out to talk to the cops when they came to bust the party was the right idea.
posted by crunchburger at 8:32 AM on May 3, 2004

I agree with those above who say something else was going on that you're not telling us. Why did the police want so badly to find your brother? Did he have a warrant out for his arrest? Was he violating probation? If so, the cops are probably justified in busting in past you to get him.
posted by falconred at 8:45 AM on May 3, 2004

IANAL either but I gotta pipe up that I find it strange that in the few months that has been around you and your friends/family have had more trouble with the law (not to mention alcohol) than I've had in my whole life. I also infer from your posts (and this may all be my own fault) that you feel put upon--you're in the right and don't appreciate the police and what they're doing to you. Personally, I hate cops. At the same time if a kid I knew were coming to me with the same problems you're having, I'd tell him point blank to a) stop drinking, period, and b) get a better class of friend. Though this particular charge may not be the one to ruin the rest of your life, I'd be none too surprised that the one that will isn't too far off in the future if you don't get your life in order and start seeing the consequences of your actions prior to performing them. In short: smarten the fuck up.

/crotchety old man speech
posted by dobbs at 8:46 AM on May 3, 2004

Don't they have to read him his rights and tell him exactly what he's being charged with? And if that didn't happen, doesn't that make his whole arrest invalid?
posted by bingo at 8:55 AM on May 3, 2004

What dobbs said. In spades.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:23 AM on May 3, 2004

Such harsh advice to Keyser is probably appropriate and correct, but, gosh, I remember when I was nineteen or twenty. I did some really incredibly fucking stupid things. But then it occured to me to stop getting shitfaced drunk.

And, anyway, the likliehood of getting in trouble with the police is heavily dependent upon things that aren't Keyser's behavior. His neighborhood, his ethnicity, simple bad luck. It's wrong and unfair to generalize about someone else's character or behavior just because they've been in trouble with the law more often than you have (especially if "you" is a middle-class white person).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:26 AM on May 3, 2004

Ok, let me reiterate by standoff, I don't mean WACO style standoff. I've only been to a few large parties where the police were called (high school graduation ups the chance of a police encounter about 200%). The ones where everyone got inside, locked the doors and stayed quiet... no one got in trouble. It was 30 minutes of police putting strobe lights in the window and banging the door like they were storming the Bastille... but minors drinking did not motivate them to get a search warrant for the house.

Though I can say, as a typical middle-class white person, cops are nice and only give a fine to the house owner (they have to do something). In fact, when I was once a friend's new house in this poor, poor ghetto... when the police came (questionable... only about 6 people, watching TV, no idea why the police came), they had a look of relief that we weren't what they were expecting in that neighborhood... no one got in trouble.

I think a thread on how police treat noise complaints in differing neighbrohoods would be VERY interesting. I think there would be a lot of good stories.
posted by geoff. at 9:49 AM on May 3, 2004

Never would have guessed this crowd is so damn uptight. Drink away Keyser!

And try going to court. Contest the charge, which means you will have to come back later. Sometime the cops don't even bother to come to the hearings, which means you can get the charges dropped right away. But get a lawyer if you can afford one at all. Even any two bit lawyer should be able to make something like this go away pretty easily.
posted by headless at 9:54 AM on May 3, 2004

"-you're in the right and don't appreciate the police and what they're doing to you."

OK, but when Keyser writes that

"The officers came to my door and asked to come inside. I told them they could not. One officer pushed me out of the way, and I asked for all of their names and wrote this information down. A door was locked and they told me to open it. I told them I did not have the key (which I didn't) and they moved me to another room. They then forced the door open, and "

isn't that fucked up? is it even legal? are cops allowed to do that?
posted by matteo at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2004

Yeah, but he still hasn't asked his question! What information is he looking for? The only question he asked in the post is "what are my rights". Not what is the law or what should I do. If that's the question, then look up the constitution or whatever and figure it out. If that's not the question, then this post is a meaningless update on Keyser's social life.
posted by loquax at 10:00 AM on May 3, 2004

Jesus Christ, people, did none of you ever drink before 21?

Keyser, it strikes me that the fine you're likely to pay is probably going to be less than it would cost to get a lawyer other than the public defender. Suck it up and next time don't lie to the cops (the fifth amendment is a thing of beauty). Are they particularly tough about underage drinking in Oregon? I've been to plenty of parties with underage drinking, some of which resulted in visits from the cops due to noise complaints, and no one was ever charged.

I'm curious as to which provision of 471.410 you are being charged under, the part about providing alcohol to minors or the part about allowing minors to consume alcohol on private real property over which you have control. If it's the former, are they going to have witnesses to testify against you? If not, it seems that the burden of proof lies on them to show that the people who were drinking got their liquor from you. If it's the latter, you're more fucked, I think. IANAL.

On preview: geoff, I had the police show up on a noise complaint with all of three people (including myself) sitting on my porch drinking and talking — no music, normal conversational tones, etc. Luckily I wasn't charged (despite the fact that the probably-unconstitutional noise ordinance in this city requires a fine if the police are called) even though the officer did write down my name and address off my license and tell me that I would probably get a citation in the mail (I never did, and it didn't occur to me until later that he apparently didn't notice or didn't care when looking at my ID that I was 18 and had a drink next to me). So I've been lucky.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:03 AM on May 3, 2004

isn't that fucked up? is it even legal? are cops allowed to do that?

1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. Yes.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:05 AM on May 3, 2004

Keyser, your life is going straight down the shitter. Get your act together, boy, before you lose it all. You're a likely alcoholic, you're repeatedly in trouble with the cops, you're going nowhere fast.

You're intelligent enough to get into MetaFilter, so you presumably have brains enough to put two-and-two together. Time for you to read the writing on the wall and make a life decision.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 AM on May 3, 2004

If the only underage people who could be implicated in possession of alcohol are yourself and your brother, and the statute that JanetLand refers to is the only one operative, it sounds like you could have your parents say that they bought the alcohol for you and your brother, but I'm not a lawyer and what I'm describing sounds a lot like perjury to me.
posted by alphanerd at 10:13 AM on May 3, 2004

Well, let's put it another way.

Many of us do/did fucked-up shit at Keyser's age. And many of us turned out fine. Such youthful behavior is not a guaranteed road to ruin.

On the other hand, so much is dependent upon chance. Maybe those of us whose lives weren't totally screwed up were lucky that we simply didn't do the wrong dumb thing and the worst possible dumb time. For example, I had two frightened guys pointing loaded shotguns at me and I walked up to one of them, grabbed the barrel, and pushed it aside. I was drunk, my state of mind was "Hey, someone could get shot if you keep aiming that gun at me." But as I grabbed that barrel, I later (and to this day) vividly recall the guy's eyes going wide with fear. He didn't pull the trigger. He could have. Maybe 6 times out of 10, he would have. And I'd be dead from a point-blank blast from a shotgun.

Just a single moment in time. And there were, no doubt, others—say, speeding along at 120MPH where I might have killed myself, or, worse, not killed myself but killed someone else.

Or any of the several "encounters" I had with the police could have turned suddenly very, very bad. Because someone else did something stupid, or perhaps I was a little extra out-of-control, or a cop had a bad day. Maybe I could have gotten into a fight, used a handy brick, and killed someone. Could have happened. At the age of twenty or so, even a year or two in prison will unimaginably alter one's life—much to the worse—forever.

So, you know, fff is probably right. If you keep brushing up against disaster, one of these times fate's gonna deal you a really, really bad hand. It could be tomorrow, or it could be two years from now, or it could be never. But it could be tomorrow.

Something to think about.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:20 AM on May 3, 2004

a likely alcoholic? for having a party with drink and a friend who's an asshole? i think it's more likely he's just from a different social class to you, fff.

no miracle happens when you're 21. police can down what they like if they have reasonable suspicion. american attitudes to alcohol are way fucked. don't lie to police to cover up a minor crime. what more is there to say?
posted by andrew cooke at 10:27 AM on May 3, 2004

whoops. down -> do
posted by andrew cooke at 10:28 AM on May 3, 2004

Many of us do/did fucked-up shit at Keyser's age. And many of us turned out fine. Such youthful behavior is not a guaranteed road to ruin. [etc.]

My point here is that drinking (or even — gasp — holding parties once in a while) is not "fucked-up shit." I hardly think it's fair to compare drinking while underage to grabbing the barrel of a shotgun. It's the law that's fucked-up here, not the behavior (at least, not the behavior detailed in this thread — for all I know Keyser's life is going down the shitter, but this question doesn't provide any evidence for that.)

On preview: what andrew cooke said.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:33 AM on May 3, 2004

Ishmael, andrew, this isn't the first time Keyser's brought up issues such as these here. Not that I know anything about Keyser's life, but that's where I think fff is coming from.
posted by loquax at 10:36 AM on May 3, 2004

posted by mischief at 10:45 AM on May 3, 2004

loquax, I realize that. It's the second time, and while you and fff may entertain suspicions as to the identity of Keyser's "friend" I don't see that anyone here is in a position to conclusively take him at anything other than face value.

So the extent of the transgressions which lead fff to call him an alcoholic and tell him that his life is going down the shitter:

1. Drinking underage and having a party.
2. Having obnoxious friends.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:47 AM on May 3, 2004

Ishmael, I wasn't talking about his post about his friend. Without really getting into it because I don't wish him any harm and I have no idea where his life is going, a fair percentage of his posts have mentioned alcohol in some form or another. It seems to me that if you play with fire long enough, well you know.

But I'm kind of irritated at the question, because it really doesn't ask anything, and to be perfectly honest, without knowing the entire situation, or being privy to knowing whether or not he is guilty of anything, I wouldn't necessarily want him to beat the charge. How are we supposed to know if he deserves to not go to prison, or whatever? We don't have all the facts and we never will with only his point of view. I'm not saying he does, just that this doesn't belong here, and I never thought I'd say that.

Keyser, get a lawyer, and don't break the law if you're not prepared to deal with the consequences.
posted by loquax at 10:59 AM on May 3, 2004

I agree with fff (for the second time today, yet). Keyser, you need to rethink your relationship with alcohol, with the law or with both.
posted by timeistight at 11:05 AM on May 3, 2004

In this case, I think what points to the deeper problem is A) whatever the hell was going on with his brother; and B) that Keyser had the bad judgment to deal with the situation in a manner which heightened his conflict with the police.

If you're going to do various illegal but vaguely acceptable things, you need to both be discreet and show common sense. Escalating a conflict with the police is neither. Personally, aside from my shotgun grabbing stupidity, I think that regarding the police and such situations, I had a great deal of discretion and good sense and that's why I had a lot of encounters with them but nothing ever that bad. But if you and/or people you know are often getting into legal trouble then that may indicate bad judgment on your part (but I point out that it doesn't necessarily); and/or that you're in a socioeconomic situation where you're never given any breaks. Either way, it means that you need to change some things.

Honestly, how he handled the police is what gives me the biggest concern. Not that he had an underage drinking party. Who doesn't do that? No one I knew.

(Put me in the camp that accepts that some teenage binge and trouble-prone drinking is alcoholism, but that perhaps the majority isn't. Except, although that's all well and good, how exactly are we to tell one from the other?)

Oh, also, having trouble-prone, obnoxious friends is a one of the best, tried-and-true means to get into deep shit fast—shit you otherwise would have had the sense to stay away from. So, yeah, I think having trouble-prone, obnoxious friends is a concern.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:07 AM on May 3, 2004

Underage drinking, cops showing up, breaking up parties...been there, I get it. There's always been a few golden rules: Don't let the party spill out into the yard/street, don't get loud, don't get violent and if the cops do show up, don't try to play the cops for fools -- they see stuff like this all the time and have heard every excuse. Yes, cops will check the house, if you give the permission or not, especially if they suspect its an entirely underage party. They have a responsibility to do that. The worst they ever did to us personally was us open and pour out the alcohol in front of them and tell you to end the party now. I can only recall one time where guests at the party were arrested and only then it was people fighting/evidence of having had fought. So, I guess some parts of your story don't add up to me.

Why did the cops ask for your brother specifically, and seemingly, rather randomly?

The officers stayed outside. approximately 1 minute later, I asked a patron who was over 21 to leave, as he had slapped my brother earlier. As he left, he walked up to the officers and told them my brother was in the house.

1 minute later you asked a guest (patron implies they were a customer, almost.) to leave? This strikes me as an odd, and maybe uncomfortable, time to start doing "bouncing" at your party, especially in front of the cops... and especially if you told this guest to leave because he socked your brother. Was this within earshot of the police officers?
posted by jerseygirl at 11:21 AM on May 3, 2004

Why did you lie to the cops and tell them 'no one under 21 was home' when you yourself are under 21? It spells an ill defense. The first godamn thing you siad to them was a easily disproven lie. Not the grandest of openings.

Because when you are underage, buy alcohol, throw a party and the cops show up, you tell them everyone's 21, nobody's getting hurt and you'll gladly keep it down, and that's usually all the cops want to hear. Nine times out of ten the worst you'll get is a $60 ticket for noise.

At the same time if a kid I knew were coming to me with the same problems you're having, I'd tell him point blank to a) stop drinking, period, and b) get a better class of friend. ... In short: smarten the fuck up.

Partying is fun. It's what being a kid is all about. When you've got minimal living costs and lots of free time, you owe it to yourself to break the rules and have a blast. If anyone has gone through college and not had some drunken half-forgotten nights, you've missed out. In short: lighten up. Life is for living.

As far as advice goes, nothing I've ever done has gone this far legally. I would guess that you might be able to get off on the first-offense, just some kids having fun, things got out of hand, I'll never do it again route. But I don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by tomorama at 11:34 AM on May 3, 2004

The problem is not just the underage drinking, but the way Keyser appears to be going about it. He threw a loud party, had guests who were "slapping" other guests, lied to the cops about really, really obvious things and attempted to hide his brother who, presumably, had some kind of warrant. All of this is unnecessary to live life or enjoy drinking.

I've been a drunken mess for most of my life, but I've never had as many problems as Keyser annually reports at MeFi. If one is going to drink, use drugs or violate the law, one should try to be smart about it. Don't do some dumbass thing and then whine about getting caught - you should either be willing to accept the consequences of what you are doing or not do it. It's really that simple.

So, advice to Keyser: If your planning on a career as a drunk, step back and plan things out better. Be aware of the risks so that you are prepared to deal with the eventualities. Try to keep parties small, have a better plan when hiding someone who, presumably, has a warrant or is a person of interest to the police and only lie to the police if you have reason to believe that can't catch you in the lie. you, I suspect, are a piss-poor liar and you should attempt to add that to your skill-set if you wish to continue to break the law.

And lastly, I do kind of enjoy this instinct of yours to wave your personal problems around MeFi. It's totally undignified in every way and completely amusing.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:54 AM on May 3, 2004

a fair percentage of his posts have mentioned alcohol in some form or another. It seems to me that if you play with fire long enough, well you know.

Fair enough, but I don't see Miguel getting this kind of criticism.

Sorry if I'm coming across as defensive, but being almost as young as Keyser I get a bit touchy when people who could legally drink at his age start being critical of youthful partying. It comes across as a bit self-righteous and hypocritical, but perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

Put me in the camp that accepts that some teenage binge and trouble-prone drinking is alcoholism, but that perhaps the majority isn't. Except, although that's all well and good, how exactly are we to tell one from the other?

Exactly. So why speculate here in the absence of facts?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:58 AM on May 3, 2004

bingo: Miranda requires the cops to read you your rights only if you are to be questioned after being placed under arrest. That doesn't seem to have happened here.

trharlan: If the cops know that the brother is underage and are told that he is drinking in the house and that his parents are not present, then of course they have probable cause to suspect that a crime is being committed on the premises, and to enter and search without a warrant. If you try to stop them, you are arrestable. If the brother is hiding in a locked room, they can break open the door.

Keyser: go to your hearing, bring a lawyer, tell the precise truth, be contrite, ask to be shown the straight and narrow path, take your lumps.
posted by nicwolff at 12:07 PM on May 3, 2004

Fair enough, but I don't see Miguel getting this kind of criticism.

You're right of course, except usually Keyser posts about decidedly less productive uses of alcohol.

but being almost as young as Keyser I get a bit touchy when people who could legally drink at his age start being critical of youthful partying.

I'm in that age range myself (although in Canada and boozin' since 19), so I know what you mean about picking on those crazy teenagers, but going from youthful indiscretion to posting on a website for legal advice is a bit of a stretch. And speaking personally, it makes me very uncomfortable to read people giving him advice to sue the cops. What if he's wrong and throws money away on a civil suit? Are we going to be held responsible? What if he does beat the rap and then someone dies at his next party? Not to be overdramatic, but this is why this post is no good, at least in my mind.
posted by loquax at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2004

Jeeeeez! I think some of you are being a bit harsh regarding Keyser's drinking. I do not clearly see a problem from what he has said. Perhaps there is, but who can really say based upon the limited information given.

Someone suggested just paying the fine would be cheaper than paying a lawyer. Perhaps, but would one really want a criminal conviction on their record if it could be avoided. The statute in question classifies this as a class A misdemeanor. A lawyer might be able to get some evidence excluded and avoid a conviction. Even if not, if Keyser has a clean record a lawyer may be able to work a deal whereby his record is later expunged if there are no future run-ins with the law. If it were me, I would rather not have to explain this, trivial as it might be, to potential future employers.
posted by caddis at 12:24 PM on May 3, 2004

Anyone who boldly tells someone to "fight it" (and, worse, that they have a responsibility to do so) has probably never stared down the cold, hard reality of the judicial system. This is a system that makes damn sure that you have a lot to lose if you fail to cooperate. So, maybe, if you're completely and utterly innocent and can prove it, fight the power. Otherwise, make the decision that is in your (and your family's) best interests.

Maybe if Keyser has stuff on his record that will cause the DA and the judge to see him unfavorably, it's worth it to take the risk and fight it and avoid what would likely be a harsh punishment. But if he doesn't have anything serious on his record, and they think he's contrite and this was mostly just teenage hijinks, then he'll probably get probation or even pre-prosectution probation and for the most part no one will ever need to be the wiser. If they think he's a bundle of trouble ready to become a shitload of trouble, it could easily go quite the other way.

Now, I'm not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice. This is just common sense. Be smart. If fighting it is in your best interests, fight it. If not fighting it is in your best interests, don't fight it.

But I hope you've learned that lying to the police is a very bad idea. It really pisses them off. And, basically, you don't want to piss them off. You ever seen the way convicts and other people with a lot of experience with the police and the courts defer to them? There's a reason. Only make trouble you know you can win.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:49 PM on May 3, 2004

jeez... talk about a train-wreck. Just reading those openers is like reading the script of a bad soap opera.
posted by crunchland at 1:27 PM on May 3, 2004

People who are saying "lighten up" and "don't be all down on teenagers partying" need to get a grip on reality.

Keyser's life and alcohol are so out of control that he ends up in trouble and ends up relying on us and others to bail him out of that trouble.

Is the best action in such a case to blithely pish-posh it away as harmless youthful antics, and in doing so encourage him to continue drinking hard and getting in trouble?

Or is the best action to attempt to clue him in?

This is where one finds out who one's real friends are.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:28 PM on May 3, 2004

Dude: GROW UP.
posted by xmutex at 1:41 PM on May 3, 2004

I don't think the people telling Keyser to take stock of his life are being curmudgeons or forgetting their own youths. He's posted a few things that have involved a) alcohol and b) the law. I've had lots of friends as a kid and still have friends now who have lots of stories involving alcohol. I've personally got a lot of stories involving alcohol, some of them amazingly stupid. Telling Keyser to straighten up isn't being harsh on him. It's telling him that some of us are seeing a bad pattern, possibly from experience, and we'd like to warn him. Consider it friendly advice, not sanctimonious haranguing.

I'll even give different advice, the same advice I'd give to my kids if I had any and the advice I took to heart when I was a kid.

If you're gonna party find a safe place to do it. For me it was bush parties at first. When the police came in with post hole diggers and started perforating the bush with ankle-trapping holes we knew that our spot was no longer safe. (We should have put 2 and 2 together after the second raid). We moved on to a few parents house, sort of quasi-sanctioned. They knew we'd drink regardless and this way they at least knew where we were and that we didn't have to drive anyplace to get there. We were smart enough not to let things get too out of control. Don't give the police a reason to come around. If the music is "fucking loud" outside the house then you're just begging for a confrontation. Don't let your guests drive home shit faced. If they do they don't come back again. Ever. Don't let your guests walk home shit faced.

If your partying gets in the way of other things you want to do or think you should be doing then you've got a problem. If you're lucky you'll be able to cut back (like I did), if you're unlucky you have to go cold turkey.
posted by substrate at 2:11 PM on May 3, 2004

Train wreck? What am I missing here? I see his friend got busted for something stupid and now Keyser a citation for furnishing alcohol to a minor. Other than that only an interest in brewing beer, alcohol ad graphics and free adult sites. I see no train wreck. Some have implied that his earlier post regarding a friend was actually about himself. Doubt that. Considering that this friend is on probation getting busted in the fashion described above would probably lead to parole revocation, a much more serious problem than Keyser has asked about. So, we are talking one problem personally involving alcohol. Where is the train wreck? Get off your high horse and leave this poor kid alone.
posted by caddis at 2:13 PM on May 3, 2004

I very much second what dobbs and fff said, and am a little disconcerted by how much flak they are getting for saying it.

In this specific case, Keyser, I think that you just need to pony up and take the consequences. Every word out of your mouth was, if not an outright lie, intentionally misleading. You make a big deal out of "I don't have the key," being a literal truth, but you know as well as I do that it is not at all honest if you have reason to believe your brother is hiding out in there. It seems to me that the cops had ample evidence that your brother was in the house and engaged in underage drinking, and you did nothing but lie to their faces.

You may have still been slapped with a fine regardless, but I think things would have gone a lot differently if you had just told the truth from the start.

On preview, caddis, I think the "train-wreck" link was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. But the point (the pattern) still stands.
posted by rafter at 2:27 PM on May 3, 2004

Keyser, have you talked to your parents yet?

You need to. Yes, they may be pissed, but you need them right now. Let them help you find a lawyer, etc. Not to mention that if you really are on a downward spiral, along with your brother, you need some parental guidance.

I know young people do stupid stuff; I was young once and no exception. But I would like to mention that last year right before my son's high school graduation, a few boys went driving around in a pickup...rumor was that they were a bit tipsy. One boy fell out of the back of said pickup and hit his head on very hard asphalt. He died not long after. Kinda put a damper on the graduation ceremony.

Please think long and hard about being in a situation concerning underage drinking. Things can happen, things that no one can ever fix.
posted by konolia at 2:56 PM on May 3, 2004

I'm still wondering if this party was in his parents' house.
posted by mischief at 3:38 PM on May 3, 2004

Keyser needs to think a step further than that, konolia: if he's hosting parties where alcohol is being served and someone ends up hurt like that, I think he'll find himself facing prosecution. There have been enough settled lawsuits in the USA to make it damn clear that the host is liable for guest's drinking and driving.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2004

five fresh fish, dobbs and rafter are on the right track - we have seen a definite pattern from your posting here, Keyser and you need to wise up a bit before you get into something that screws up your life in one way or another. Us old people sure did some partying when we were younger and at least some of it would have been illegal and/or immoral or probably both. Times change, though and the police can no longer afford to adopt a fatherly approach to any form of illegal activity, no matter how much they would like to, because they far too often end up being held responsible for the consequences.

As substrate said, if you must drink (and I am not so old that I can't understand that you must), make sure you can do so without pissing people off, particularly the police - they don't want to bust a bunch of kids having some fun but, if you make trouble for them by annoying the neighbours, they have no choice. If you do come up against the police, never ever lie to them - they will know you are lying and things can only get worse from there. Reading between the lines (I'm a parent - it's what we do), I can hazard a guess that you are being used as a patsy by some of your friends who want to party but who don't have the guts to deal with the trouble that inevitably follows.
posted by dg at 7:05 PM on May 3, 2004

Practical alcohol abuse 101: do not invite 40 inexperienced drinkers to your own house for fun and frivolity. They can't handle it, and you can't handle them.

Given that you seem to be underage, along with all your mates, think of it like this: you're living under prohibition. If you want to run a speakeasy, keep it small, only let in people you know, and don't make loud noises that draw attention.

And yeah, perhaps it's about time to ask another question, along the lines of "why does this shit keep happening to me?" Pointers to answers already given above.

BTW, your terminology "I hosted a party" and "patrons" implies that you were running a paid gig, in which case I would get me a lawyer now. There's a whole lot more trouble you can get in right there.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:31 PM on May 3, 2004

Keyser, you're in Eugene, aren't you? I seem to recall you saying that once.

The cops here are steadily developing a heavier and heavier hand, and you're hardly the first party busted by a questionable search and seizure. Just be thankful the OLCC wasn't involved; they'd probably have taken your stereo and your laptop.

IANAL, and I don't know exactly what happened, but a buddy of mine just got through beating an illegal search that sounds an awful lot like what you describe. People in the community are starting to get pissed, and there are more and more people willing to fight to help you out (especially if you happen to be a student.)
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 7:53 PM on May 3, 2004

Everyone seems to be jumping on the fact that he lied to the cops. This is true, he did lie, but I see exactly why he did. When you are a kid throwing a party, that is what you always do in this situation. When the cops show up to check out your party and ask you if there is underage drinking going on, most of the time they are looking for you to say "No, everyone is 21 or over" so they can tell you to keep it down and move along. They just want to keep you under control, not come, break things up and send people home. If you tell them there's underage drinking going on, they have to go in. I've thrown many parties. I've done this many times. In this case, it just so happens that while he was talking to the cops an unforunate series of events happened that forced the cops to have to investigate further. I don't blame him for telling them everyone was 21, etc...
posted by tomorama at 10:01 PM on May 3, 2004

Keyser, if I'm remembering correctly, one of your first Ask MetaFilter posts was a poignant question of what to do with your life at the crossroads.

On one side, you had military service. The other was college, but involved finishing up some last high school bits. You also thought about starting businesses, but they seemed to be alcohol related. Eventually, you indicated you were headed to the military.

All I want to say is that given the choices you're making right now in your life, you might not have the military as an option. If that was what you truly wanted to do later this year, listen up to all the harsh critics here and turn your life around because it sounds like all these youthful indiscretions are adding up to a pile of trouble. And from what I hear, the military doesn't like trouble and may balk at taking you in.
posted by mathowie at 2:07 AM on May 4, 2004

Vidiot:Not trying to sound like the buzzkill grownup, but maybe you should stay away from alcohol until you're 21.

Yah after all your old enough to get drafted and get your ass shot off in some overseas hell hole but heaven forbid you have a brewski.
posted by Mitheral at 8:20 AM on May 10, 2004

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