Perhaps you are a college freshman with a clean record. You were enjoying a couple of beers with friends when the supply ran out.
You are only 17 but look older and volunteered to buy more beer. However, a police officer witnessed your attempt to do so and arrested you on suspicion of “minor in possession.” What happens now?
A summary offense
In Pennsylvania, a summary offense is a minor criminal offense that is sometimes called a “non-traffic citation.” Such offenses include loitering, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, possession of a fake ID and underage drinking. You may not have to appear in court, but if convicted of the offense, you will have to pay a fine of up to $500. In addition, law enforcement must notify your parents or guardians of the charge against you.
If you are not convicted of underage drinking, you can anticipate an immediate expungement and no stain will appear on your record. On the other hand, the court could offer you the opportunity to participate in the Summary Diversion Program. If you agree, you must pay $200 and attend a class. If you complete the program successfully, you can expect expungement of your record in about six months.
With legal guidance, you can sort through the various issues that might affect your future plans. For example, a conviction will follow you and make higher education and job opportunities more difficult to obtain. A summary offense may not seem important at first glance, but if charged with underage drinking, you will want the best outcome possible for your case.