A “MIP charge” refers to the criminal charge of “minor in possession.” Most states say that you commit this offense if you are under 21 years of age and you possess an alcoholic beverage or marijuana in public.
In most jurisdictions, a MIP conviction is a misdemeanor that can potentially stay on your criminal record indefinitely.
Note, however, that a minor in possession charge will not result in a criminal record if you can get the charge dismissed. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get a dismissal by raising a legal defense on your behalf.
If you do receive a conviction, you can try to get it removed from your record via an expungement. If you are eligible for an expungement, most jurisdictions say that you can file for one in the court that sentenced you for the MIP offense.
1. What does “MIP” mean?
Most state laws say that “MIP” refers to the criminal offense known as “minor in possession” of alcohol.
You generally commit a MIP violation if you:
- are a minor or underage person, and
- have alcohol or marijuana in your possession or within your ability to control it.1
The purpose of minor in possession laws is to:
- promote programs that help prevent the illegal use of alcohol and marijuana, and
- educate young adults about the dangers of marijuana and alcohol use.2
Most states say that possessing alcohol by a minor is a misdemeanor offense (as opposed to an infraction or a felony).
Possible penalties for a first offense include:
- a fine,
- completion of hours of community service, and
- completion of an alcohol education course.3
A first-time MIP violation can even result in:
- a driver’s license suspension, or
- a delay in obtaining your driving privileges.4
A second offense under a state’s MIP laws usually results in increased fines and hours of community service.
A MIP conviction will usually not result in jail time.
2. Does a minor in possession conviction stay on your record?
Generally, yes. If you receive a conviction in a MIP case, one of the results is that the conviction creates a criminal record. If you already have a criminal history, the conviction is added to your record.
Most states say that the conviction will remain on your record indefinitely.
Note, however, that some jurisdictions say that a first-time conviction will be automatically sealed after the case is complete. But a second offense will stay on a person’s record for a certain period of time.5
3. Can I get a MIP charge dismissed?
Depending on the facts of your case, maybe. If you are able to get a charge dismissed, the dismissal means you avoid a criminal record.
Criminal defense lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients contest criminal charges in these cases. For example, a defense attorney may try to show that:
- you were not a minor at the time of your charge or were above the legal drinking age,
- you did not technically “possess” any alcohol, and/or
- a police officer found the alcohol by means of an unlawful search and seizure.
In addition to raising a legal defense, some states say that you can try to get a MIP charge dismissed by entering either:
- a diversion program, or
- a deferred entry of judgment.
4. Can I get a conviction expunged?
Possibly, yes. You can try to get an expungement following a MIP conviction.
If your conviction is expunged, a state basically removes it from your criminal record.
Note that some states do not offer expungements. Rather, a person tries to “seal” a criminal record. If you seal a MIP conviction, it generally has the same result as an expungement.
You can usually try to get a conviction expunged or sealed if you:
- have completed or fulfilled all of the penalties for your MIP conviction, and
- are not facing any criminal charges.6
5. Can a criminal defense lawyer help?
Yes. A criminal defense attorney is highly valuable in MIP cases.
A skilled defense lawyer can help you with:
- raising a legal defense to challenge a MIP charge, and
- obtaining an expungement.
Please note that most attorneys and law firms provide free consultations. This means you will not have to pay a dime for legal advice.
Further, your communications with a lawyer are protected by the attorney-client relationship. Your attorney cannot disclose your confidences with first obtaining your consent.
- See, for example, Florida Statute 562.111.
- See, for example, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-13-122. Note that the dangers of alcohol use include committing such alcohol charges as underage drinking, driving under the influence (DUI), and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
- See, for example, California Business and Professions Code 25662 PC.
- See, for example, California Vehicle Code Section 13202.5 VC.
- Note that after this time period expires, an offender usually has to ask the court to seal the record. See, for example, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-13-122.
- See, for example, Arizona Revised Statutes 13-911.