If I was ticketed for having an open container while I was on the sidewalk of a private university, can I fight it?

All I want to know is should I just pay the ticket and be done with it or should I attempt to fight it because it was private property? It is only a minor misdemeanor, how does that affect my record?

Asked on October 10, 2011 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You can be cited for a violation for having an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a public place. "Public places" are those which anyone can enter freely and include sidewalks, streets, tree lawns, some outdoor areas of apartment complexes and inside parked or moving cars.

The fact is that there are no "minor" misdemeanors.  A misdemeanor is a criminal offense. A conviction can result in adverse consequences regarding employment, student loans, professional licensing, just to name a few. You really should speak directly with a criminal law attorney in your area. Also, see if your university offers free/low cost legal assistance.

There is something known as "diversion" which essentially diverts a case out of the criminal justice system. In a diversion, you will go to court and plead guilty to the offense. You are then sentenced to probation. If you successfully complete it, your plea will be withdrawn and your case dismissed. This leaves you with a clean criminal record. Again, consult with a lawyer as to all of this.


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