Business and Professions Code 25608 - alcoholic beverages at public educational facilities

Getting charged with possessing alcohol while on restricted educational grounds may not seem all that serious. However, when minors are present the potential risks that alcohol can present only increases. If you face such an offense, do not take it lightly. It is highly recommended you contact a defense lawyer who knows what to expect and how to help.

For a critical understanding of what it means to bring alcoholic beverages on public education grounds, let’s take a look at the definition.

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How Does California Define It?

California details what it means to possess alcoholic beverages at public educational facilities under Business and Professions Code 25608. This law states you commit this crime if you possess, consume, sell, distribute, or deliver any alcoholic beverage while on school grounds.

What is an alcoholic beverage?

Beverages covered under this law include any hard liquor, beer, wine, carbonated alcoholic beverages, or any other type of commercial or home-made alcohol that can be transported in flasks, cans, boxes, or bottles.

What is considered a public educational facility?

School grounds include public grade schools, early education facilities, and public colleges or universities.

Examples:

Erwin, the elementary school janitor began working graveyard shifts. He thought it would be okay to bring his flask of vodka to work because no children or staff would be present. However, BP 25608 does not take into account the time of day as the statute clearly states possession of an alcoholic beverage while on public school grounds is a crime. Regardless of whether you are there before, during, or after school hours does not make you exempt from the consequences of violating this law.

Ashley was tasked with walking her younger cousin home from middle school. Hating to walk, she motivated herself with a water bottle full of alcoholic carbonated water. She chose to wait outside the front entrance while sipping from her water bottle. Despite never stepping into the building, you can still be guilty of BP 25608 for simply being on public school property with an alcoholic beverage.

Jason, a high school gym teacher was depressed and would keep a bottle of whiskey in his desk drawer. Every morning, he would spike his coffee just to get started with his day. Jason is guilty of violating BP 25608. Even if he moved his whiskey to his vehicle, if the car is parked on public school grounds, he could still be charged with this offense.

What are the exceptions?

On the other hand, there are certain exceptions to this law. If the alcohol is being used for a culinary arts program or an instructional viticulture program, you do not violate the statute. If the alcohol is used in connection with a legitimate course study and possessed by someone authorized to have it, you are not guilty of BP 25608. There are also exceptions to the rule in cases where alcohol is served during an adult event taking place after class hours and when students are not present.

Example:

Bruce and Mary were attending a social event for adults at the community college. It was after school hours and the event served alcoholic beverages.

Cherri was a culinary chef at the community college and had a case of red and white wine. She was demonstrating wine-infused recipes as part of her culinary program.

Associated Offenses

When public schools are involved, there is the possibility that minors could be present or worse, could involve themselves in questionable behavior. If this is the case, you could face associated offenses which would increase the overall penalties.

The following list is just some of the similar offenses that can be charged in addition to a BP 25608 violation.

California BP 25658, Providing alcohol to a minor;

You commit this crime if you sell or furnish alcohol to a minor, someone under the legal drinking age of 21.

California BP 25662, Minor in Possession Laws (M.I.P);

This law prohibits individuals under the legal drinking age of 21, from possessing alcohol while in a public place.

California VC 23136, DUI of someone under age 21;

Also known as California’s zero-tolerance law, you commit this infraction just by having any detectable amounts of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle and being under the legal age for drinking.

California VC 23140, Underage driving with BAC of 0.05% or higher;

You violate this law by operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.05% or higher and you are under the legal drinking age.

California PC 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor;

Committing this crime means you act or fail to act in such a way that causes someone under the age of 18, a minor, to be habitually truant, a juvenile delinquent, or a dependent of the juvenile court system.

California PC 647(f), public intoxication;

You are guilty of public intoxication if you are in a public place and are intoxicated to the point of being unable to care for your safety or the safety of others.

California PC 415, disturbing the peace;

This statute prohibits playing excessively loud music, fighting someone, using offensive language, or using fighting words to instigate a physical altercation with someone. 

What the Prosecution Must Do

There are specific facts that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the prosecution to get a conviction for BP 25608. These factors are also known as the facts of the case, or elements of the crime.

  • You were in possession of an alcoholic beverage, and
    • Possession means you were carrying it or had it somewhere on your person. For instance, in a backpack, coat pocket, purse, or gym bag.
      • Or you were consuming, selling, distributing, or delivering alcohol.
    • Some examples of alcoholic beverages are cans of beer, mini-tequila bottles, wine boxes, or mason jars full of moonshine.
  • You were on public school grounds.
    • Possessing alcohol at a public education facility means you were at/on:
      • An early educational facility such as a pre-school
      • Elementary school grounds
      • Middle school or Jr High school grounds
      • High school property
      • Public College or University property
      • Public School administration facility
      • Public School athletic property

Examples of Who Can Be Charged

  • Earl was watching his son’s football game at the high school and added some beers to his ice chest. He brings his drink cozy. While sitting in the stands, he thinks no one can tell what he is drinking because of the cozy. After downing his fourth beer, he begins yelling offensive language at the opposing team.
    • Earl could be charged with BP 25608 for consuming alcohol while on public school property. He could face charges for disturbing the peace, PC 415 due to his belligerent rantings.
  • Sandra worked in the administration building and was upset that she got overlooked for a promotion. She began drinking before going to work. When no one said anything, she thought she wouldn’t get caught. She chose to add mini-tequila bottles to her lunchbox. When a coworker mistook Sandras’ lunchbox for their own and opened it, the mini-tequila bottles were spotted. Sandra was reported. Sandra could be charged with BP 25608.
  • Colson did not want to go to the parent-teacher conference for his son at the elementary school. After getting home from work, he usually just liked to drink beer and watch TV. He received a reminder call for it and did not want to change his plans. He had his brother drive him to the conference and carried a six-pack of beer inside the school.
    • He could be charged with BP 25608. Even if Colson did not consume any of the beer, the facts are he possessed alcoholic beverages while at a public educational facility.

Legal Defenses

A BP 25608 offense can be challenged by an experienced criminal defense attorney. An expert defense lawyer would also be familiar with all the common legal defenses. Below are just a few examples of legal arguments used to get charges for alcoholic beverages at public educational facilities dropped.

No Alcoholic Beverage

If you do not have alcohol on you, then you are not guilty of violating BP 25608. Surprisingly, incidents like this do happen. If suspicion is high, any assumptions already made can be difficult to disprove. However, you should not be convicted of this offense if you had no alcoholic beverage.

Example:

19-year-old Renni wanted to fit in with his college friends, who loved drinking alcoholic carbonated waters. He bought non-alcoholic seltzer water from the cafeteria and used a beer cozy to cover the can. A staff member caught them drinking and reported them. All of them were charged with BP 25608, including Renni. Authorities did not believe him when he said his drink was non-alcoholic. They also charged him with BP 25662, minor in possession.

Luckily, Renni’s lawyer was able to prove his drink was non-alcoholic using the time-stamped receipt. Renni’s friends also supported this, stating Renni had brought his own drinks and had not shared with them. Both charges were dropped. 

Not on Public Educational Property

A conviction for BP 25608 means you had to be physically present on public educational grounds while possessing or consuming alcohol. If you had an alcoholic beverage but were not on public school grounds, you should not be charged. Just because you were within a certain distance of public school property, does not mean you should face this offense either. 

Example:

Edna was waiting at the bus stop for the public transit bus when she decided to start drinking the fireball whiskey she carried in her purse. The bus stop was across the street from the middle school. After a few gulps from the bottle, she started dancing and singing. This caught the attention of a police officer who was driving by. Edna was unable to answer his questions and joked about dancing on the lawn of the middle school. The officer assumed she had been on school property while drinking and charged her with BP 25608 and a public intoxication, PC 647(f) offense. 

Fortunately, Edna’s lawyer was able to get the BP 25608 charge dropped using the GPS APP on her cellphone. It tracked her movements that day and revealed she never left the bus stop to dance on the school lawn. Edna’s joke was taken too seriously by the arresting police officer. However, she could still face a PC 647(f) offense for public intoxication.

False Accusations and Wrongful Arrests

Sadly, there are cases where false allegations are made. These unfortunate claims can be made out of an act of revenge or jealousy. It can also become a case of your word against theirs. Depending on how severe the fraudulent accusations are, it is not unheard of for law enforcement to act swiftly. This can often lead to a wrongful arrest.

Example of false accusations:

17-year-old Dennis wanted alcohol to celebrate his high school varsity football team’s recent winning streak. He took a bottle of his parents’ crown royale whiskey to school and took it out in the boys’ locker room. Julian, the new assistant coach caught him and told Dennis to get rid of it or he would have to report it. He said he would. His teammates witnessed the exchange. Dennis waited until Julian went to the bathroom before bringing it out and passing it around for everyone to take a sip. When the head coach caught them with it, Dennis claimed Julian gave him the whiskey.

Julian was charged with BP 25608 as well as BP 25658, furnishing alcohol to a minor. Upon further investigation, Julian’s lawyer was able to get the truth from some of the teammates and Dennis’s claims fell apart. All charges were dropped.

Illegal Search and Seizure Laws

California has strict Search and Seizure Laws, especially concerning legal warrants. Law enforcement must also have probable cause to stop, investigate, detain, or arrest you. Unfortunately, illegal search and seizures do happen, particularly in cases where tensions are high or assumptions are made. This could also result in false accusations or unlawful arrests. If you can relate to this type of situation, do not wait to find legal aid. Contact a criminal defense attorney who can fight for your rights.

If any of these examples apply to your situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. A highly trusted and effective defense lawyer could dispute these charges on your behalf to gain you the best possible outcome.

Penalties for PC 25608

If convicted of possessing an alcoholic beverage on public educational grounds, you face a:

Misdemeanor;

As long as six months in the county jail, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.

The judge also has the discretion to assign informal (misdemeanor) probation in lieu of jail time.

Enhanced Penalties

If there are other questionable or aggravating factors involved in the case, you could face additional consequences. For instance, if you gave alcohol to a minor while on public school grounds, you could face the offense of providing alcohol to a minor under BP 25658. If anyone was hurt as a result of your actions, you could be held legally responsible.

Example:

Hank, a college professor, was caught drinking alcohol in his office by eighteen-year-old community college students. They asked Hank to share and he provided them each with several shots, asking that they don’t tell anyone. They agreed. One of the students decided to drive his car home and got into a wreck, causing him and another passenger serious bodily injuries.

The driver will be held accountable for a DUI and face underage drinking charges. Hank could also face multiple BP 25658 violations as well as larger fines, longer county jail sentencing, and potential prison time. Even though Hank was not the one driving while intoxicated, he furnished the alcohol to the minors. He could be sued or held legally responsible for medical costs associated with their injuries. In situations like this, it is not unheard of for him to face professional consequences as well. 

Further consequences for violating BP 25608 include potentially losing your professional standing, such as certifications or professional licenses. It all depends on the circumstances of your case.  

Penalties for Associated Offenses

It is important to note, if any minors or other people who were involved suffered any physical harm, you could face stricter penalties including higher fines, increased sentencing, and long-term probation.

California BP 25658, Providing alcohol to a minor;

Misdemeanor;

Fines as high as one thousand dollars, and

24-hours of community service in either:

  • an alcohol or drug treatment facility, or
  • at the county coroner’s office.

California BP 25662, Minor in Possession Laws (M.I.P);

Misdemeanor;

A fine of two hundred fifty dollars,

Successful completion of up to thirty-two hours of community service at either a:

  • Alcohol or drug treatment facility, or
  • The county coroner’s office.

A driver’s license suspension of one year, or a delay of one year in driver’s license eligibility.

California VC 23136, DUI of someone under age 21;

Infraction (civil offense citation);

A one-year driver’s license suspension, or

A one-year delay in your eligibility to get a driver’s license.

California VC 23140, Underage driving with BAC of 0.05% or higher;

Infraction;

A one hundred dollar fine,

The DMV will suspend your driver’s license,

Your vehicle is impounded for at least five days if prior DUI’s, or if your BAC is 0.10% or higher, and

If you are 18 or older, you must spend three months or longer enrolled in an alcohol education program.

California PC 272, contributing to the delinquency of a minor;

Misdemeanor;

As long as one year in county jail, and/or

Fines as high as two-thousand-five-hundred dollars.

Possible summary probation in lieu of jail time.

California PC 647(f), public intoxication;

Misdemeanor;

As long as six months in county jail, and/or

Fines as high as one thousand dollars.

It’s the judge’s discretion to award:

  • Informal probation in lieu of jail time, and/or
  • Community service in lieu of fines.

California PC 415, disturbing the peace;

Infraction;

Fines of up to four hundred dollars.

Misdemeanor;

A potential ninety-day county jail sentence, and/or

A four hundred dollar fine.

Who Can Help

If you or someone you care about is facing a BP 25608 charge or any of the related offenses and are located in San Diego, Orange County, or Los Angeles, contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. Attempting to confront these charges alone can be overwhelming. Attorney Yum is a top-rated, highly regarded lawyer and you can expect an aggressive fight to defend your record and your future.

For more information on this law, related offenses, or for a no-obligation, free consultation call 619-233-4433. You can also use our online contact form. We welcome all inquiries. Let us help.

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