I would like to fight this fine. Advice appreciated.

Over the weekend, I recieved an underage drinking ticket. Now, I’m not going to fight that I had been drinking over the weekend. I would like to fight the fact that I was issued the ticket when I was sober. I will try to go into as much detail as I can about the event in order for Dopers to be able to help as much as possible.

Friends and I throw a party at the condo where we were staying at, starts around 6 PM on satuday night. A lot of friends and people we know come in and out the condo throughout the night. There is drinking going on. People start leaving the condo at around 2 AM, 2:30 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning. I go to bed at 3 AM. I am woken up throughout the night because there are still friends of ours in the condo on the balcony talking and smoking (cigarettes). At around 6: 30 AM I am woken up because everyone on the balcony leaves. At around 7 AM I hear someone yelling. I get out of bed and go to lock the door to my room. It is immediately kicked in by a police officer. Everyone in the condo is woken up, taken out of bed, and taken outside. The officer tells us that the front door was open and they came up the stairs and found some bottles of liquor and empty beer cans (we were building a beer can pyramid). Everyone who was under 18 were threatened with going to jail and $1000 bail, but were then told to just go back to bed. At around 7:30 AM, everyone who was in the house and between the ages of 18-20 were issued tickets for underaged drinking. Everyone who was 21 and over went out and were not in the house at the time. We were told to call the number on the back for information.

Memorial Day weekend at the Jersey Shore is a big time for drinking and a big time for the cops to issue these kinds of tickets. They want as little hassle as possible, which is why everyone under 18 were not issued tickets. They want to issue quick and easy ones that most people will not fight.

Now, the reason the cops were even by the condo was because the people that were outside on the balcony were apperently getting loud and someone may have complained. They left the door open when they left the condo and when the cops showed up to see what the complaint was about, they let themselves in.

I don’t know if I stand any kind of chance if I plead not guilty, since, like I said it’s a big time for drinking. But I feel that being completely sober, being woken up, and being taken out of bed to be issued a ticket is not right, so I will being going to court to try and fight it.

I appreciate any advice Dopers can offer. I’ll post any more information that is required.

The only good advice you’re going to get is this: Talk to a lawyer.

Kicked in? The door was unlocked and he kicked it in or the door was unlocked and he opened it?

If your defense is going to be that you find that those actions “aren’t right”, going to court will surely be a waste of time.

You are going to admit your were drinking under age, but you think you aren’t guilty because you don’t like how you were given the ticket? I wouldn’t bother.

The front door was open. The door to my room was kicked in.

You said you were going to lock the door to your room, which means it wasn’t locked. Why would an officer kick it in? The judge will ask you that question based on how you posed the scenario.

Do not admit you were drinking under age to anybody but your lawyer. The only advice you should take from someone who isn’t your lawyer is this: don’t say ANYTHING to police/courts/etc until you have spoken to your lawyer.

It is possible that you would be fine in this situation unless you admitted you were drinking under age, in which case you’d be screwed.

[AFAIK, IANAL, etc] it is not a crime to be in the presence of empty booze containers while under age, and from what you’ve told us, that’s all they’ve got on you. (Perhaps it is illegal, in this culture of prohibition, in which case I stand corrected.)

Admit nothing unless your lawyer says it’s okay.

Yeah! And everyone with automotive questions please talk to a mechanic and keep plumbing questions for the plumbers. :dubious:

This hardly seems like the sort of case where paying for a lawyer would be worthwhile.

I don’t know why he felt it needed to be kicked in.

Nothing was admitted to the officers. And the only thing they have on us is the empty alcohol containers.

You’re claiming that a police officer kicked in an open door when they are trained to try turning the knob first, and no damage was done to the door or latch mechanism that the hotel managers are complaining of. This is where the judge is going to say he can’t believe anything else you have to say because this part of the story doesn’t make sense.

Ah, I understand the problem. I got up to lock the door, and I did. It was not kicked in with great force but the door was locked. There were problems the rest of the day with locking the door for the rest of my time there. The door knob would still lock and not turn, but all that was needed was a hard push to get the locked door open. And there are no complaints from the managers side about the door.

If I were the judge, I would have a hard time believing that a door was kicked in with no complaints from management.

In the meantime, you’re going to need a better defense than the officer’s actions weren’t right and go with something along the lines of cowgirl’s suggestion to say you weren’t drinking.

If I were the judge, I would have a hard time believing that a locked door was kicked in with no complaints from management.

In the meantime, you’re going to need a better defense than the officer’s actions weren’t right and go with something along the lines of cowgirl’s suggestion to say you weren’t drinking.

Sounds like you might have a difficult time proving you’re not guilty. How much is the fine? Do you think it’s worth the trouble to take it to court? If you want to go to court out of some sense of moral indignation, it sounds a little misplaced to me. It sounds like you and your friends had a loud party all night that bothered the neighbors to the point that they had to call the police. Do you think a party that goes until 7:00 AM is reasonable? “It’s a big time for drinking” isn’t really much of an excuse. Did you expect the police to just go away when you tried to lock them out? I just don’t think your indignation is going to go over well in court. Were you cited for being drunk, or for drinking? You may have been sober, but I think I’d have a hard time believing you if you argued that you hadn’t been drinking at all that night, what with all the empties lying around.

I think I will leave that part of the story out of it then. And I will also go along with what cowgirl suggested.

Start with this: What kind of crime is “underaged drinking” in your state?

If it’s a fine-only offense - meaning the maximum punishment is only a fine, not jail time - you don’t ‘need’ a lawyer, although you’re free to get one if you want.

If you decide to get a lawyer, then do whatever the lawyer says. That’s what you’re paying him for.

If you decide not to get a lawyer, show up for your court date. Probably there’ll be a prosecutor there, wanting to know if you want to make a deal.

If you don’t want to make a deal - and it sounds like you don’t - then tell them that, and ask for a trial.

They have the burden of proving your guilt. If the cops don’t show up for trial, you win. (And based on your post, it sounds like they won’t show.) Even if they do show, they still have to prove your guilt. If they have no evidence (and based on your post, it sounds like they don’t) you still win.

There’s also a search issue, but you probably want to go ahead and hire a lawyer if you want to litigate that.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t testify. Because (again, based on your post) that’s the only way they’re going to win.

And having a party that goes on until 7 AM isn’t much of an excuse to be cited for drinking. That neighbors were bothered or what you think is an unreasonable time to have a party has zero to do with what he was charged with

Why’s that? You should see the amount of empties after one of my Friday night poker games. More than half of my attendees don’t drink. It’s not unusual to be a non-drinker who hangs around major partyers.

If they show up for a noise complaint, and in the process witness another infraction being committed, then the police are entitled to issue citations. That’s not overstepping their authority. Believe me, I am not big on the police overstepping their authority; it just doesn’t sound like this is a case of it. People should save their indignation for when it’s actually warranted.

And to imply that I am the only person who thinks ALL NIGHT is an unreasonable time to have a party, is absurd.

Yeah, well it might be worth a shot. I suspect it’ll be hard to convice a judge of that, but the burden of proof is on the prosecution, so who knows?

I don’t think that’s going to be viable. They most likely showed up on a noise complaint, and the door was apparently wide open. Empty bottles were in plain sight, so they’ve got pretty rock-solid probable cause there.