Charged with possession of beer, under 21 and fake ID

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Question

Country: United States of America
State: South Carolina

I am an 18 year old college student in Charleston, South Carolina. I have been charged with possession of beer under the age of 21 and presenting a false identification. I have no criminal background. I have been given the option of paying a fine (risking suspension of my home state (MD) drivers license) or appearing in court. I plan to appear in court. What should I expect, and what should I say to give myself the best chance for a lesser penalty? I expect this happens often with college students; how do most usually fare?

Answer

Make sure you get counsel (or at least the public defender) to try to keep this off your record eventually--jail time is probably not likely if your record is very clear now. But having that arrest and/or a conviction on your record will make job-hunting etc. more difficult. Often this could be negotiated down to some kind of court supervision etc. at worst...