Open House Parties


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Thomas By Thomas C. Grajek

It is a crime to have an open house party in Florida under Florida Criminal statute 856.015.

House Party

  • What exactly is an open house party? That just means a social gathering at a residence.
  • When does it become a crime? When any person, having control of a residence, allows an open house party to take place at the house and any alcoholic beverage or drug is possessed or consumed by a minor.
  • What else has to be proven by the prosecutor in order to find an arrested person guilty? To be guilty of this crime, the prosecutor has a heavy burden to prove the arrested adult knew that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in the possession of or being consumed by a minor at the open house party and the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug by a minor.

This crime prohibits an adult, who is in control of the premises, from having a party and knowingly permitting a minor to continue to consume or possess alcoholic beverages or drugs on the premises. That adult may avoid liability by terminating the party or taking some other reasonable action to prevent the consumption or possession after learning thereof.

That means that if you were unaware of the minor’s presence that could be a defense!

This criminal statute only applies to individuals over the age of 18 and not to juveniles. It has been attacked on constitutional grounds as being too vague, but the Florida Supreme Court determined that, even though it is a poorly drafted criminal statute, what are “reasonable” steps is not too vague of a term to put an arrested person on notice as to what makes it a criminal act.

In order to prosecute this crime, the prosecutor has a heavy burden to prove beyond all reasonable doubt:

  • (1) an adult in control of the premises knowingly allows a social gathering to take place there;
  • (2) the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances by one or more minors occurs during the gathering;
  • (3) the adult in control has actual knowledge of the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances by the minors; and
  • (4) the adult in control: (a) allows the party to continue and (b) fails to take any reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption.

In essence, the State has the heavy burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the adult in charge stood by and did nothing in the face of the adult’s actual knowledge of the minor’s consumption or possession of alcohol or controlled substances.

“DID NOTHING” means the adult in control took no steps whatsoever, or the adult in control did nothing that could be fairly characterized as reasonable to prevent the continued consumption or possession of the alcohol or drugs.

Any arrested person convicted of this crime is guilty of a 2nd degree misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.00. In addition, it is important that you understand how a present or future employer may view this crime if you are convicted and how this crime can effect your reputation in the community.

Call now and speak to an experienced criminal defense trial lawyer so that you can fight this criminal charge and know your rights!


Lakeland, FL (863) 838-5549
Tampa, FL (813) 789-6404