When we speak with parents of minors who have been charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol – MIP, we have to be very honest with them and counsel that the alcohol charge could be the tip of the iceberg. What do we mean by this and why are we being so negative?
We have too many years of experience handling these cases to simply take a young person’s word for the events of the night. Many times there are other behaviors that can lead to additional charges if not handled properly. At one arraignment, the prosecutor came over and asked if we knew “that your client put himself through a plate glass window of a house earlier in the night”. This could have lead to Home Invasion felony charges, but we were able to keep these charges from ever being authorized by agreeing to pay for any damage.
In addition, the large parties associated with college drinking can lead to sexual assaults, fights resulting in terrible injuries, and drug related confiscations. In one recent Michigan Court of Appeals case, a minor attending a party got into an argument, which escalated into a physical altercation. After a cooling off period, two of the participants returned armed with various weapons and attacked one kid with a baseball bat, hitting him in the head and resulting in brain damage.
We have also seen marijuana seized at parties with no arrest, leading the minors to think that they are in the clear and they do not tell their parents the whole story. Six months later after the Michigan State Police Crime lab gives the results to the prosecuting officials warrants are issued for an arrest. This does and can happen if there is not a thorough investigation into the entire night and all of the evidence that can be gathered. If these potential charges can be discovered before they are authorized, a plea agreement can be reached whereby the prosecuting officials may agree to not charge the conduct in the future.