Law Office of Tim Powers
These cases are often the results of stings by police and law enforcement
on bars, restaurants and stores. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section
106.03 governs sale of alcohol to minors. That provision states,
"(a) A person commits an offense if with
criminal negligence he sells an alcoholic beverage to a minor.
"(b) A person who sells a minor an alcoholic beverage does not commit
an offense if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years old
or older by displaying an apparently valid proof of identification that
contains a physical description and photograph consistent with the minor's
appearance, purports to establish that the minor is 21 years of age or
older, and was issued by a governmental agency. The proof of identification
may include a driver's license or identification card issued by the
Department of Public Safety, a passport, or a military identification card.
"(c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
"(d) Subsection (b) does not apply to a person who accesses electronically
readable information under Section 109.61 that identifies a driver's
license or identification certificate as invalid.
There are two main points I'd like to make about this statute. First,
is that the inclusion of criminal negligence (which I've italicized
above) as a mental state for this offense. Criminal negligence is the
lowest (or most easily proved) culpable mental state in Texas law. And
under Texas Penal Code 6.02(e), if the prosecution proves actual intent,
knowledge, or even recklessness — then they've proved "criminal
negligence" as well.
A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to circumstances surrounding
his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of
a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the
result will occur.
Proving someone acted with "criminal negligence" is highly confusing
in these types of prosecutions because courts generally won't give
a jury any more guidance as to it's definition than I just did above.
Additionally, the statute essentially gives an out to persons that sell
alcohol to minors under subsection (b) — as it is a defense to prosecution
if the person who presented the identification did so with an "apparently
valid" form of identification. But if the person has a way to electronically
verify the information then the affirmative defense doesn't apply
no matter how good the fake i.d. was.
The sale of alcohol to minors is a Class A misdemeanor which puts it above
DWI's or possession of small amounts of marijuana. It's punishable
by up to a year jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced
criminal defense attorney for your Denton County sale of alcohol case
or arrest in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There
is no charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899.
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For
legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult