Spring break is a welcome break from lectures, midterms and assignments. Some students go home to see friends and family. Others use their spring break as an opportunity to take a vacation to some place warm and sunny.
No matter your destination, spring break is often used as time to party with other students and do crazy things. However, this could lead to you facing criminal charges. Here are some of the most frequent crimes committed during spring break.
Alcohol Use or Possession by a Minor (BP 25662)
Many crimes committed during spring break involve alcohol use among college students who are still too young to legally possess or use alcohol. Under California Business and Professional Code Section 25662, it is a misdemeanor for a person under the age of 21 to have an alcoholic beverage in their possession on any street, highway, or public place.1 If you are convicted, you face a $250 fine, and will likely have to serve between 24 and 32 hours of community service. This may seem like it is no big deal, but a conviction for this crime will also result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license.2
Drug Possession (HS 11350)
Similar to the above, there are a number of arrests during spring break every year for possession of controlled substances, such as marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy. However, unlike alcohol possession, there is no age after which it is legal for you to possess these drugs. Health and Safety Code Section 11350 makes the possession of these and other controlled substances a misdemeanor, and you could be sentenced to up to 364 days in county jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
DUI is an especially frequent crime during spring break because law enforcement increases the number of DUI checkpoints during times when they are aware that a large number of college students are partying. DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of your case. For a misdemeanor, you face the following punishment:
- Informal probation for three to five years;
- A possible six-month sentence in county jail;
- A fine between $390 and $1,000 (which ends up being more than $2,000 when factoring in all costs and fees);
- Up to nine months of court-approved alcohol and/or drug education; and
- Up to ten months suspension of your driver’s license.
Drunk in Public (PC 647(f))
Many spring breakers are arrested for public intoxication. Under California Penal Code Section 647(f), it is unlawful for a person to be willfully under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance while in a public place, if that person is either unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others; or if that person is interfering, obstructing, or preventing the free use of a street, sidewalk, or other public path. If you are charged with being drunk in public, you face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Theft (PC 487)
Theft is common during spring break, primarily because victims often leave belongings such as wallets or purses in an unsecure place while partying. Theft is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property involved. If you are charged with felony grand theft, you face up to three years in county jail.
Disturbing the Peace (PC 415)
Disorderly conduct is a broad category of acts that are prohibited because they are disruptive to an orderly society. These acts include disturbing the peace under California Penal Code Section 415. For example, if you get into a fight or challenge someone to a fight in public, you could face 90 days in county jail and a $400 fine under this law.
Indecent Exposure (PC 314)
Indecent exposure is a crime under California Penal Code Section 314. To be convicted of this crime, you must have willfully exposed your genitals to someone else while motivated either by a desire to sexually gratify yourself, or to offend the other person. If charged, you face six months in county jail, and a fine up to $1,000. Additionally, a conviction will trigger a penalty requiring you to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code section 290 for the rest of your life. This is by far the worst penalty associated with this crime, as it could make finding housing or employment much more difficult.
Lewd or Dissolute Conduct (PC 647(a))
Under California Penal Code Section 647(a), it is a crime to publically solicit or engage in lewd conduct, which is defined as the touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breasts of yourself or another person in a public place for the purpose of sexual gratification, or to offend or annoy another person. However, this is only a crime if you know or reasonably should’ve known that there is likely to be someone present or watching who would be offended by your conduct. If you are charged with this crime, you face six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
Sexual Battery (PC 243.4)
Sexual battery (California Penal Code Section 243.4) is closely related to lewd or dissolute conduct, with two key differences. The crime can be committed in a public or private location, and it involves the touching of another person’s intimate areas without his or her consent. Sexual battery can be a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction for misdemeanor sexual battery carries a sentence of up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $3,000. If you are convicted of felony sexual battery, you face up to four years in state prison and a $10,000 fine. You will also have to register as a sex offender for life under California Penal Code Section 290.
Rape (PC 261)
Rape is one of the most serious crimes that college students face while on spring break. There are number of different crimes that fall into category of rape, but the most common is under California Penal Code Section 261, which is, broadly speaking, sexual intercourse that occurs without the consent of one of the persons involved.
It can involve (but does not necessarily require) threats or use of force to accomplish sexual intercourse. Rape is punishable by up to eight years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Even the most minor crimes can have long lasting consequences for you. A mistake you make during spring break can follow you through the rest of your life. That is why you should not wait to consult with an attorney if you are facing criminal charges. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. We know that a conviction can follow you for years, so we are dedicated to giving you the best representation possible.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, San Diego, Torrance and Sherman Oaks, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in criminal defense available near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.
1. Cal. Bus & Prof. Code §25662. href=”#ref1″>↩
2. Cal. Veh. Code §13202.5. href=”#ref2″>↩