In Minnesota, furnishing alcohol to a minor (person under 21 years old) is a gross misdemeanor offense. Gross misdemeanors have a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. It is very uncommon, however, for anyone to actually serve the maximum punishment on this type of offense. The person furnishing the alcohol can also face civil penalties if the minor sustains injuries or injures another person or causes property damage. In situations, where the furnishing of alcohol to a minor occurs at a liquor store, restaurant, or bar, the establishment may face civil penalties and fines.

One of the most common ways a person faces charges for furnishing alcohol to a minor is when law enforcement sets up a sting operation. The cops will have someone who is under the age of 21, but generally looks older, go into a liquor store, restaurant, or bar and attempt to purchase alcohol. If the person selling the alcohol does not ask for a picture ID of the buyer, then you can virtually guarantee they will be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor. In that scenario, the buyer usually finishes the purchase of the alcohol, leaves the establishment, and then the police officer comes in to talk to the seller of the alcohol. Law enforcement usually does not handcuff the seller and take them to jail. They often will give the seller information about what happened and that they can expect charges to come in the mail. A police report then gets drafted and forwarded to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor then reviews the case and decides whether to file charges with the court. If that happens, then the court will mail the seller the notice of the charges with a court date to appear for an Arraignment.

Another common way a person faces charges for furnishing alcohol to a minor is when someone at least 21 years old buys alcohol for someone under 21. Typically, some additional event occurs for law enforcement to get notified this has happened. Such as the police respond to a disturbance at a party where underage consumption of alcohol is occurring. The officers then further investigate and gain evidence of who provided the alcohol to the minors.

There is an affirmative defense to furnishing alcohol to a minor. If the person charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor is the parent or guardian of the minor and the person charged gave the alcoholic beverage to the minor solely to be consumed in the defendant’s household. This burden of this defense is a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, if you give your kid a drink with alcohol at dinner while at your house, you can likely use this defense if you end up charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor for doing so.

Furnishing alcohol to minors can have a significant impact on a person’s criminal background check, current and future employment opportunities, and general well-being. For a consultation at no charge, please contact Ambrose Law Firm by calling 612-547-3199 or by email at We help good people in unfortunate situations.