Criminal Law

2961. Purchase of Alcoholic Beverage by Person Under 21

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with (purchasing/ [or] (drinking/consuming)) an alcoholic beverage when under 21 years old.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

<Alternative 1A—purchased>

[1. The defendant purchased an alcoholic beverage;]

<Alternative 1B—drank or consumed>

[1. The defendant (drank/consumed) an alcoholic beverage at a business that was lawfully licensed to sell alcoholic beverages;]


2. At the time, the defendant was under 21 years old.

An alcoholic beverage is a liquid or solid material intended to be consumed that contains one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume. [An alcoholic beverage includes <insert type[s] of beverage[s] from Bus. & Prof. Code, § 23004, e.g., wine, beer>.]

[Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime.

Give the bracketed sentence about calculating age if requested. (Fam. Code, § 6500; In re Harris (1993) 5 Cal.4th 813, 849-850 [21 Cal.Rptr.2d 373, 855 P.2d 391].)


Elements. Bus. & Prof. Code, § 25658(b).

Alcoholic Beverage Defined. Bus. & Prof. Code, § 23004.

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000), Crimes Against Public Peace and Welfare, § 291.

(New January 2006)