minor in possession in colorado

Many parents are startled when they receive a phone call or a knock on the door from police.

Especially when they inform them that their teen has been found in possession of drugs or alcohol, called “minor in possession” or MIP.

Possessing or consuming alcohol or drugs violates Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-13-122. The law also prohibits possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Under the MIP law, a minor is someone under 21 years of age.

Marijuana v. Alcohol

Colorado treats alcohol, marijuana, and marijuana paraphernalia the same under MIP laws. So it doesn’t matter if your child possesses a can of beer or a bong. Both items are illegal for a minor to possess under MIP laws.

A child is considered in possession of marijuana even if they possess an ounce or less. Marijuana paraphernalia includes any item used to grow, harvest, or consume marijuana.

If your child possesses any of this marijuana paraphernalia, they might receive an MIP:

  • Marijuana bongs,
  • Cigarette papers,
  • Roach clips, or
  • Marijuana grinders.

As concerned parents, your first step should be to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands MIP in Colorado. We can make the adjudication process go as smoothly as possible so that your child will face a minimum of punishment before moving on with his or her life.

What Happens When You Get an MIP?

The juvenile justice system in Colorado focuses mostly on rehabilitating minors, not punishing them like the adult criminal justice system does. For that reason, an MIP should not be cause for concern that your child is about to head to prison.

Instead, an MIP in Colorado typically results in:

●     A small fine of up to $250

●     A drivers license suspension for a short amount of time

●     Mandatory community service

●    Drug or alcohol classes

This does not mean that time in jail or detention never happens. If your child has several MIPs already on his or her record, then penalties will increase.  

Fines go up to $500 for a second MIP. A minor with several MIPs could face some time in detention, a longer license suspension, or significant fines.

In addition, if your child faces other charges along with the MIP, penalties can increase significantly. For instance, minors often receive DUI or DWAI charges along with MIP charges.

Other charges that might coincide with an MIP include public urination and littering. Each of these charges could add to the fines and penalties that an MIP charge carries.

Collateral Consequences of an MIP

If your child was found with drugs or alcohol while on school property, then there could be additional penalties. For example, a teen in possession at college might get a suspension or expulsion from the school.

The school might also have other administrative penalties that your child will have to serve, such as being prohibited from serving on certain student committees or participating in college athletics.

A minor in possession charge can also pop up later in life. If your child is in high school, then he might need to disclose the charge when applying to college and later when applying to graduate school or a job.

Many applications require that a person disclose their criminal history, including juvenile history.

Of course, it is possible to get juvenile convictions expunged so that the public cannot find out about them. But in the meantime, the criminal history can continue to hang over your child like a dark cloud.

How the Right Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney Can Make a Difference

A qualified Colorado minor in possession attorney can help you and your child in many ways. For one, we can work to convince a judge that a first-time offense does not warrant any detention.

If this is a subsequent offense, we can try to minimize the amount of time your child will spend in juvenile detention.

Many MIP cases are not as “open and shut” as the police like to claim. Sometimes, your child might not have had any drugs or alcohol in her possession but those around your child did.

A Colorado criminal defense attorney will use any defense available to help your child. Here are some potential defenses to a Colorado MIP:

  • The minor was using alcohol or marijuana on private property;
  • The minor tasted but did not consume alcohol during instruction at culinary school;
  • The minor consumed alcohol in a medical or hygienic substance, like cough syrup or mouthwash;
  • The minor consumed alcohol for a religious reason; or
  • The minor consumed marijuana or alcohol but called 911 to help a friend who had used marijuana or alcohol. 

Depending on the holes in the case, we might be able to dismiss charges altogether.

Contact Us Today

Contact Miller Leonard today. Our law firm handles many Colorado MIP cases and we will put our experience to work for you. For more information, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.


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