Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance
Possession has a very broad definition which is basically when someone “exercises control over” something, and it is completely independent form the concept of ownership. For example, if Joe holds your wallet, Joe possesses it even though Joe does not own it. And if you are a guest in Joe’s home and Joe is aware of you putting your wallet on his coffee table in his living room, he will likely be found to be in possession of it.
Virtually any amount of the substance in question can be prosecuted. Some people are surprised when they get possession charges based only on drops left in a bottle or residue in a smoking device or baggie, but this is allowed and common under Oregon law.
Minor in Possession of Alcohol —“just a violation”?
Sometimes when police investigate MIP, they will explain that it is “just a violation,” in order to ease the person’s fear or gain compliance with the investigation. It is true that it is “just a violation,” so it is not punishable by jail, but it has far-reaching consequences including license suspension, and two violation convictions on your record can block expungement (sealing the record) of a different offense.
MIP-Alcohol is unique in that possession by consumption can be prosecuted. If a police officer smells alcohol on your breath, that may be enough for an MIP citation.
Many years ago the legislature got serious about MIPs and passed a mandatory one-year license suspension for MIP convictions. Many courts now have diversion programs available under certain circumstances to avoid conviction and license suspension. You only get one shot at diversion and a failed diversion will result in conviction. It is best to have the help of an attorney to make sure you are making all the right choices and that you can get diversion if at all possible.
Marijuana possession is now legal in Oregon under many circumstances, but there are restrictions including but not limited to age of user, amount and location of use, sharing with friends, and of course operation of vehicles while under the influence.
You may now be able to expunge (seal the records of) prior felony marijuana convictions that were previously non-expungeable. Contact Joan to find out.