A Jefferson County man has been charged with open house party, under Alabama Criminal Code 13A-11-10.1, after authorities say he posted about an underage drinking party on Facebook.
Birmingham criminal defense lawyersbelieve this is a cautionary tale about what not to do if you are engaging in some form of illegal activity or if you’ve already been charged with a crime.
Facebook and other social media sites like Twitter or YouTube can be great tools for connecting with those around you. The problem is that some people have a misguided perception that these sites offer an insulation of privacy, and that’s simply not the case.
On Facebook for example, even if you set your privacy settings to the most stringent options available, the content is still visible by all of your designated “friends,” and often to their friends as well. You need to think about that each and every time you post something – criminal or not.
The same goes for e-mail or other forms of electronic communication that you may consider private. Understand that with a simple click, that message can be made available to the world. It’s a mistake to think that authorities aren’t savvy to the internet or that the evidence obtained from your social media content won’t be used against you in a criminal case.
In this situation, a 24-year-old announced that he would be hosting a party for teenagers who attend two local high schools. He reportedly made it clear in his post that teens would be able to consume Jell-O shots, beer and other alcoholic beverages.
The Birmingham News reported that the party post was seen by a lot of people – including a number of parents. It was one of the latter who in turn contacted authorities.
It might have ended there, given that police showed up at the intended site and turned away party-goers as they arrived. However, police soon learned that rather than simply canceling the party, the man decided to host it at his home.
And it was no small affair.
Police reported that when they arrived, there were approximately 300 people there. Of those, about a third were minors. Many of those, they said, were either consuming alcohol or in possession of it.
Parents were called to pick up their children, and the 24-year-old host was arrested.
Under Alabama law, any adult who hosts a party or gathering in which they know that minors will be consuming alcohol and fails to take reasonable action against this can be charged with open house party, which is a Class B misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Because it is a misdemeanor, the court won’t automatically provide you with an attorney, but it’s a wise investment considering the consequences. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can often help negotiate lower penalties or charges, based on the facts of the case and your previous criminal history.