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Open House Parties in Jacksonville

Legal Assistance for Students, Adults, & Minors in Florida

When our office gets a phone call from a parent that their college student has been issued a Notice to Appear or even arrested for the crime of open house party, they are usually confused and not sure what to do. Under Section 856.015 of the Florida Statutes, it is a crime for any adult having control of a residence to host an open house party with the knowledge that minors are consuming alcohol or other drugs while at the residence.

The state has the burden of proving the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • The person had control over the residence;
  • The person knowingly allowed the open house party to take place;
  • Drugs or alcohol were consumed at the residence during the open house party;
  • The person, while in control of the residence, knew minors were consuming drugs or alcohol; and
  • Despite such knowledge, the person failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of drugs or alcohol by minors.

A violation of this statute amounts to “negligence per se,” which means it is considered negligent because it violates a statute. In the case of open house party, the statute creates liability for the hosts of the party. Florida Statute 586.015(2) is designed to protect a class of people, in this case minors, against the use and consumption of drugs and alcoholic beverages.

Call (904) 615-8950 today to speak to our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys.

Aggressive Defense for House Parties

As you can see above, the State to prove five elements in order to establish that the person is guilty of open house party.

Because of this there are many defenses available, including:

  • The person did not have control over the residence.
  • The person accused of the crime can argue he or she did not allow the party to take place in the residence.
  • The person can show that there was no evidence that minors were consuming drugs or alcohol at the residence during the open house party.
  • The person can argue that he or she had no knowledge of the fact that minors at the residence consumed alcohol or other drugs during the open house party.
  • The person can argue he or she took steps to prevent the consumption that were reasonable after learning of any minors consuming alcohol or other drugs at the residence.

A typical example that our criminal lawyer in Jacksonville, FL sees are college students from one of the local universities having a party and police are called. The hosts of the party are usually issued a notice to appear. We have been successful in avoiding any consequences for these students by being able to place them in a diversionary program, after which we had their records expunged.

Penalties for a Conviction

Punishment for violating the open house party statute depends on several factors. A first time violation resulting in no injuries is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $500.00 fine. A second violation resulting in no injuries is a misdemeanor in the first degree, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000.00 fine.

Please note that if the party or the minor at the party causes or contributes to a death or serious bodily injury, the penalty is a misdemeanor in the first degree, even if it was a first offense.

Let our Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys aggressively defend your rights. Call (904) 615-8950 for a free consultation today.

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