This past Saturday night in Hingham, Massachusetts the police broke up a house party. While doing so they arrested sixteen minors and one adult. The minors face charges of Minor in Possession of Alcohol and Disturbing the Peace. The homeowner is also being charged with a crime; Violating the Massachusetts Social Host Law. When the police responded to calls complaining about the party bear bottles were hurled at them. Backup officers were called and arrests were made. Several other youths fled into the woods and were not apprehended. The case is being prosecuted in the Hingham District Court.
Lawyers Who Defend Social Host Violations in Massachusetts
While I am not sure exactly under which statute the homeowner is being prosecuted Massachusetts General Laws has criminal provision for people who provide alcohol to people under the age of twenty one. The law, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138 Section 34 states that anyone who gives any alcoholic beverage to someone under the age of twenty one is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be sentenced by a fine of two thousand dollars and a one year jail sentence.
As a Massachusetts Criminal Lawyer I see these charges typically being filed this time of year. They stem from high school graduation parties. Most parents are not aware of the law and cannot foresee problems with permitting minors to drink alcohol at their homes on these occasions. Many adults reflect back to when they graduated from high school remembering how they celebrated that day. They figure there is no harm in passing along the tradition. They assume the graduates will act appropriately and the event will be a happy one that runs smoothly. In doing so they are unaware of several factors that can result in them being charged with a crime. The laws have changed. Since the drinking age was raised fewer high school students have access to alcohol. Beer has been passed over for vodka or other types of hard alcohol. It is easier to conceal. It also however leads to acute intoxication that can be hazardous to anyone, especially the inexperienced high school aged drinker. When the police get called to a house party where minors are consuming alcohol they cannot ignore what they see. Arrests are made, parents are called and criminal charges are filed. And now, the parents hosting the party get charged as well. This case is a perfect example of what happens in these circumstances. The minor drinkers could not control their behavior to the point where the police were called. To compound matters they threw bottles at the officers. Obviously this cannot be overlooked and the person who permitted them to do so is facing criminal charges in court.