Mistakes happen. Not many adults set out to illegally furnish or sell alcohol to minors, but it can happen inadvertently. If you're working as a cashier or bartender and someone presents themselves as over 21, it's easy to be fooled by a motivated teen. But having a criminal record can have long-lasting consequences on your future career or education. Fortunately, you have options to clean up your record in Pennsylvania.
While the most thorough option for cleaning up a criminal record is typically to obtain a court order expunging or destroying your records, Pennsylvania law limits who can expunge records. Unfortunately, most people convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor will not be eligible to expunge their records except under very limited circumstances. However, you may qualify to limit public access to your records by sealing them with Pennsylvania's Clean Slate or Act 5 legislation.
Charges for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors in Pennsylvania
You can face charges for furnishing alcohol to minors in Pennsylvania if you “intentionally and knowingly” sell, furnish, or purchase any “liquor, malt, or brewed beverages with the intent to sell or furnish” to someone under 21. There are some exceptions to the law. You won't face charges for furnishing alcohol to minors at a “religious service or ceremony” conducted either in a private home or a “place of worship” as long as the amount of wine served doesn't exceed “the amount reasonably, customarily and traditionally required as an integral part of the service or ceremony.” 18 Pa. Stat. § 6310.1 (1988).
Penalties for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors in Pennsylvania
Furnishing alcohol to minors is typically a third-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. Typically for a third-degree misdemeanor conviction, you can face up to 90 days in jail and fines of $250 to $5,000. However, Pennsylvania law mandates a higher minimum penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor. A conviction will result in a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first offense and a minimum fine of $2,500 for a second or subsequent violation. The law also prohibits a court from suspending a sentence for furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Sealing Your Record for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor Through Clean Slate
Very recently, only a small percentage of Pennsylvanians who qualified to seal their records actually did so. Many people didn't know they had the option to remove their records from public view or found the process too complicated. That's why the Pennsylvania legislature passed legislation making record sealing more accessible to more people. Under 2019's “Clean Slate” legislation, the state will now automatically seal the records of those who qualify after five to ten years, depending on the grading of the offense. You may qualify for automatic sealing if:
- You were convicted of a summary offense or a second or third-degree misdemeanor,
- You were convicted of an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by no more than two years in jail, or
- You don't have a conviction for furnishing alcohol to a minor because the state dropped the charges or the court found you not guilty.
However, you can't use Clean Slate to automatically seal your records if you have four or more misdemeanor convictions.
If you have a third-degree misdemeanor conviction for furnishing alcohol to a minor, and you meet all the qualifications, the state will typically wait ten years after you complete your sentence before sealing your record. If you have a summary conviction, you only must wait five years. In some cases, the waiting periods for automatic sealing vary, such as if you weren't convicted or were a juvenile “adjudicated delinquent.” You should consult an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney to discuss your options.
Sealing Your Record for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor with an Act 5 Petition
If you don't meet the qualifications for automatic sealing under Clean Slate, you can still petition the court to seal your records under Act 5. While Act 5 sealing isn't automatic, it applies to a wider range of convictions, including some first-degree misdemeanors. You may qualify to petition the court to limit access to your records with Act 5 if:
- You've waited ten years or more after completing your sentence for furnishing alcohol to a minor,
- You have a misdemeanor conviction punishable by no more than five years in prison, including some first-degree misdemeanors, and
- You don't have any additional arrests or prosecutions for crimes punishable by a year or more in jail.
Crimes You Can't Seal in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, you can't seal a felony conviction under either Clean Slate or Act 5. Moreover, there are some misdemeanors you can't seal in our state, even if they're punishable by only five years or less in prison. These include violent and non-violent crimes such as:
- Simple assault,
- Intimidation of a witness,
- Impersonating a public servant,
- Retaliation against a witness,
- Offenses that require registration as a sex offender,
- Obstructing a child abuse case, or
- Intercourse with an animal.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Sealing and Expungement Attorney
If you have a criminal record for furnishing alcohol to a minor in Pennsylvania, it can have consequences on your career, your education, your ability to obtain professional licensing, join the military, or even volunteer in your community. If you're investigating how to clean up your record, you need to discuss your case with an experienced Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney. There's no need to try and figure this out alone.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a skilled Pennsylvania sealing and expungement attorney well-versed in helping people clean up their criminal records. He can examine your case, discuss your best options, and help you seal your record as quickly and efficiently as possible. Attorney Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have been helping Pennsylvanians for years, and they can help you too. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 to schedule your consultation, or contact them online.