Business and Professions Code 25657(a) - Soliciting the Sale of Alcohol

California Business and Professions Code 25657(a) is the California statute that makes it a crime for the owner of a bar or club to hire or pay someone to solicit alcohol. “Solicit” here means to urge or request someone to purchase and drink alcohol.

Examples of illegal acts under this code section include:

  • a nightclub hires female models solely to urge male guests to buy alcoholic drinks.
  • a bar hires a salesman and pays him a commission on the number of drinks he can influence bar patrons to buy.
  • a club owner hires a man and woman to interact with guests and influence them to buy shots of hard liquor.

Defenses

Luckily, there are several legal defenses that a person can raise if accused of a crime under Business and Professions Code 25657 BPC. These include showing that an accused party was:

  • not an on-sale premise;
  • not directly soliciting alcoholic drinks; and/or,
  • entrapped.

Penalties

A violation of BPC 25657(a) is charged as a misdemeanor (as opposed to a California felony or an infraction). The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

california soliciting alcohol sales
California Business and Professions Code 25657(a) is the California statute that makes it a crime for the owner of a bar or club to hire or pay someone to solicit alcohol.

1. The legal definition of employing a person to solicit the sale of alcohol

California Business and Professions Code 25657(a) BPC is the California statute that applies to bars and clubs and those establishments solicitating the sale of alcohol.

BPC 25657(a) says it is a crime for a bar or club to:

  1. employ a person to directly solicit the purchase of alcoholic drinks; or,
  2. pay such a person a commission on the sale of alcoholic drinks.1

BPC 25657(a) applies to “on-sale premises.” California law defines an “on-sale premise” as an establishment that is licensed to sell beer, wine, and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises where they are sold.2 This typically means a bar or nightclub.

Please note that “solicit,” in the context of this statute, means to urge or request someone to drink alcohol. And, BPC 25657(a) only applies to the direct solicitation of drinks.3 This means a person is employed or paid to solely solicit the sale of alcohol.

2. Legal Defenses

A person accused under Business and Professions Code 25657(a) can challenge the accusation by raising a legal defense. A good defense can often get a charge reduced or even dismissed. Please note, though, that it is critical for an accused to hire an attorney to get the most effective defense.

Three common defenses to BPC 25657(a) accusations are:

  1. not an on-sale premise;
  2. not directly soliciting drinks; and/or,
  3. entrapment.

2.1 Not an on-sale premise

Please recall that Business and Professions Code 25657(a) only applies to “on-sale premises” (as defined above). This means it is a legal defense for an establishment to show that while it sells alcohol, customers are not allowed to consume the alcohol on the premises where it is sold. This would apply, for example, to most liquor stores.

2.2 Not directly soliciting drinks

Also recall that BP 25657(a) only applies to persons employed or paid to directly solicit the sale of alcohol. This means a bartender or hostess would not be penalized under the code section because, while they may suggest a person to buy a drink, that is not the sole reason for their employment.

2.3 Entrapment

In many BPC 25657(a) cases, bars and clubs are often implicated and accused only after authorities conduct a sting operation. If so, any later charges of soliciting the sale of alcohol must get dropped if an officer “lured” a suspect.

This “luring” is known as entrapment. It applies to overbearing official conduct on the part of police officers, like pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats. Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense provided that the accused shows that it only committed a crime because of the entrapment.

man behind bars
A violation of BPC 25657(a) can lead to a fine and/or jail time

3. Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

A violation of BPC 25657(a) is charged as a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.4

Please note that in lieu of jail time a judge may order a defendant to misdemeanor probation. This is also called “summary” or “informal” probation.

4. Related Offenses

There are three crimes related to a bar or club soliciting the sale of alcohol. These are:

  1. minor possessing or presenting a fake ID – BPC 25661;
  2. minor in possession of alcohol – BPC 25662; and,
  3. permitting a minor in a place where alcohol is consumed – BPC 25665.

4.1 Minor possessing or presenting a fake ID – BPC 25661

California Business and Professions Code 25661 makes it a crime for a minor to possess or present a false identification card.

A person is guilty under BPC 25661 if he is under the age of 21 and either:

  1. presents a fraudulent ID to a business for the purpose of buying, or attempting to buy, alcohol; or,
  2. possesses a false or fraudulent identification card.5

A violation of Business and Professions Code 25661 is charged as a misdemeanor.6 The offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $200.7

4.2 Minor in possession of alcohol – BPC 25662

California Business and Professions Code 25662 BPC is the California statute governing the possession of alcohol by minors when in a public place.

A prosecutor must prove three things to successfully show that a minor is violating BPC 25662. These are:

  1. The defendant was under the age of 21 (at the time of the incident);
  2. The defendant possessed an alcoholic beverage; and,
  3. The defendant was on a street, highway, public place, or a place open to the public.8

A first-time violation of BPC 25662 is treated as a California infraction. The offense is punishable by:

  • a fine of $250, or
  • 24-32 hours of community service.9

A second or subsequent violation of BPC 25662 is charged as a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • a maximum fine of $500, and/or
  • 36-48 hours of community service.10

4.3 Permitting a minor in a place where alcohol is consumed – BPC 25665

California Business and Professions Code 25665 BPC makes it a crime for a minor to be on the premises of a business that is licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises (e.g., a bar or nightclub).

BPC 25665 penalizes both the business establishment and the minor.

For a prosecutor to show that a business violated the law, he must prove that the owner of a bar or club:

  1. was licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises; and,
  2. it allowed a minor under the age of 21 to enter and remain in the bar/club.11

For a prosecutor to show that a minor violated the law, he must prove that the minor:

  1. was under the age of 21; and,
  2. entered and remained in the bar/club without lawful business inside.12

The owner of a bar or club that violates BPC 25665 will be charged with a misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by:

  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months; and/or,
  • a maximum fine of $1,000.13

A minor that violates BPC 25665 will be charged with a misdemeanor as well. The crime is punishable by a maximum fine of $200.14

Were you accused of employing a person to solicit the sale of alcohol in California? Call us for help…

california soliciting sale of alcohol legal defense
Call us for help at 855-LAWFIRM

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime under Business and Professions Code 25657(a) BPC, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 855-LawFirm.


Legal References:

  1. California Business and Professions Code 25657(a) BPC. This code section states: “It is unlawful…For any person to employ, upon any licensed on–sale premises, any person for the purpose of procuring or encouraging the purchase or sale of alcoholic beverages, or to pay any such person a percentage or commission on the sale of alcoholic beverages for procuring or encouraging the purchase or sale of alcoholic beverages on such premises.”

  2. California Business and Professions Code 23399 BPC.

  3. Cooper v. State Board of Equalization (1955), 137 Cal. App. 2d 672.

  4. California Business and Professions Code 25617 BPC.

  5. California Business and Professions Code 25661 BPC.

  6. See same.

  7. See same.

  8. California Business and Professions Code 25662(a) BPC.

  9. California Business and Professions Code 25662(a) BPC.

  10. See same.

  11. California Business and Professions Code 25665 BPC.

  12. See same.

  13. California Business and Professions Code 25617 BPC.

  14. California Business and Professions Code 25665 BPC.

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