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!


— Thomas C. Grajek

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


An illegal open house party happens when a minor possesses or consumes any alcoholic beverage or drug, and the host of the event allows this to take place at the house.

In Florida, the term open house party in a criminal sense refers to a case in which you had minors on your property consuming drugs or alcohol in a setting like a party. This becomes an illegal matter that could lead to criminal charges for the person who owns or was maintaining that property and hosting the party.

To throw a safe house party, ensure that you have planned for the occasion ahead of time. It’s also important to limit the number of your visitors and set ground rules for your guests. As much as possible, lessen the alcohol and drugs on your premises.

Most cities will require that you obtain a permit if you intend to have a really loud party. While this is not necessarily a state level issue, you’d want to look up whether or not there are any city or local ordinances that require you to get a permit from that municipality to be allowed to have a loud party. If you have a permit and someone complains, this will help protect you from criminal charges. If you have a party and failed to get the permit that was required, the party might be required to disband or you could be accused of an ordinance violation.

It really depends. If you set strict ground rules in your party like limiting your guests only to adults, it would prevent minors from entering the party. One of the most common violations that party hosts usually do is give alcoholic beverages or drugs to minors. Restricting them as much as possible would prevent this problem from happening.

There are instances in which a house party by itself it illegal and can cause the police to be called and charges issued. An example is when alcohol is being provided to minors at the house party directly since serving alcohol to someone underage is illegal. If the owner of the property knew about this and allowed it to be happen this house party could be illegal

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