JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 17-year-old girl is facing the possibility of being expelled from high school after she was observed by an agent with the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco moving a cup of beer at a tailgate outside EverBank Field before the Jacksonville Jaguars home game on Sept. 11.
The teenager, who asked not to be named, broke off from her parents before the first Jaguars game of the season to go hang out with her friends at a tailgate.
Seconds after the girl moved a cup on a beer pong table, she was surrounded and then threatened by an agent, the family's attorney, Rick Block, said.
"You're detaining a 17-year-old girl who has never been in trouble in her life, for allegedly moving (it). She must have drank out of it, right?" Block asked the agent. "He said, 'No she didn't drink out of it. We are charging her with possession. She took possession of the cup. She moved it on a table. That is physical possession.'"
According to Block, the state agent told the teen she could admit guilt by signing a citation or spend 72 hours in jail. She signed the document, including signing that she was under duress.
Within 24 hours after signing the document, her school was alerted.
"She's the captain of the cheerleaders at her school. They were talking about taking her off the team. They were talking about suspending her from school," Block said.
According to Florida law, if someone under 21 possesses alcohol in any way, the person can have the driver's license taken away until age 21, go to jail for up to 60 days and be fined $500.
This goes beyond his client's story, Block said.
"If I take my son to Publix, and tell him to get a six-pack of beer for me and put it in the cart for me, he's committing a crime? And he said, 'yes,'" Block said. "Obviously, it's meant for good purposes. We don't want our minors out there possessing and drinking alcohol. But it's not meant for something like this. Picking up a cup and moving it on a table? The law does have some common sense. Apparently, there are some police officers that don't."
News4Jax was told the family could go to teen court or get rid of the charge by subjecting her to sanctions in teen court or they will tell the state attorney that they won't agree to teen court and she could be charged. Then, there would be a trial to prove that she committed a crime.
If she is charged for picking up the cup, it could follow her for the rest of her life.