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Minor in Possession: What To Know About Colorado Juvenile Charges

Posted on 03/28/23

If you’ve been charged with a minor in possession (MIP) charge in Colorado, you may be wondering what it means and how the process works. In Colorado, an MIP charge is actually an unclassified petty offense which doesn’t involve jail time; however, there are fines and other penalties associated with it.

What Is Minor in Possession? 

Individuals under the age of 21 who are found to possess ethyl alcohol (which is in most alcoholic drinks like beer, wine, and liquor), marijuana, or drug paraphernalia are subject to Minor in Possession (MIP) charges.

 “Illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol/marijuana/marijuana paraphernalia by an underage person is a strict liability offense,” so the state does not have to establish the defendant’s intent or mental state at the time of possession: 

It’s important to know that minors may be immune from prosecution if they call 911 and provide their name while staying on the scene until medical help arrives and cooperating with responders. The purpose of this is to ensure that kids aren’t afraid to call 911 when someone needs help. The minor in need of medical assistance will also be immune to prosecution in this case.

First Conviction Penalties 

For a first conviction, there are several penalties associated with an MIP conviction. These include $100 in fines, a $25 surcharge, and a drug education class. The cost for the drug education class varies but typically ranges from $50-$200. You may also be sentenced up to 24 hours of public service depending on the severity of your case. 

Second Conviction Penalties 

A second conviction for an MIP carries $100 in fines and $25 surcharge, as well as a substance abuse assessment and treatment. Additionally, you may be required to perform up to 24 hours of public service.  

Third or Subsequent Offense Penalties 

A third or subsequent offense carries more punishment than the first two convictions including higher fines at $250 plus a substance abuse assessment and treatment. Additionally, you face up to 36 hours of public service. A conviction also carries a $25 surcharge in addition to any applicable other fees that come along with your case such as drug education classes or substance abuse assessments/treatments.  

Diversion Programs For Minor in Possession

Minors are sometimes eligible to participate in a diversion program after being found in possession of the illegal item or substance. A diversion program provides an alternative option to criminal prosecution, where a juvenile offender can engage in treatment and other programs rather than going to court to face charges. 

Participation in a diversion program requires the minor to attend certain classes or activities, such as psychological counseling, drug/alcohol education classes, community service, or other activities intended to prevent further offenses from being committed.

As long as all agreed upon terms are completed, no further action will be taken against the minor and no criminal record will be created.

Deferred Judgment For MIP Charge

Deferred judgment is another option for minors who have been charged with a crime. Rather than going to trial, the minor pleads either guilty or no contest to the charges against them, but the judge then holds off on rendering any judgment until after the terms of the program are complete. Provided those terms are fulfilled, the case will get dismissed and there will be no criminal record.  

Sealing an MIP Conviction 

A first-time Minor in Possession conviction is automatically sealed at the end of the case in Colorado. This means your records will not be accessible and can only be viewed via a court order.

However, if you have been convicted of a second or subsequent MIP charge, the conviction must stay on your record for one year before it can be sealed. After the year has passed, the defendant has to request that their records be sealed by filing a motion with the court.

If you’ve been charged with a minor in possession charge or need help with any other type of criminal offense, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.