Loitering is a well-known as a vague crime that is rarely prosecuted. The crime of a minor loitering in a place where alcoholic beverages are sold is a similarly vague crime. However, even though Nevada is sometimes seen as a state where vices can be exploited and people can get away with breaking some laws, if prosecuted a minor loitering near a place where alcoholic beverages are sold is subject to harsh penalties.

What is the legal definition of a Minor Loitering in a Place where Alcoholic Beverages are Sold?

Minors loitering in a place where alcoholic beverages are sold is governed by NRS 202.015, and 202.030.

NRS 202.015 – “Alcoholic beverage” defined.

For the purposes of NRS 202.015 to 202.065, inclusive, “alcoholic beverage” means:

  1. Beer, ale, porter, stout and other similar fermented beverages, including sake and similar products, of any name or description containing one-half of 1 percent or more alcohol by volume, brewed or produced from malt, wholly or in part, or from any substitute therefor;
  2. Any beverage obtained by the fermentation o the natural content of fruits or other agricultural products containing sugar, of not less than one-half of 1 percent of alcohol by volume;
  3. Any distilled spirits commonly referred to as ethyl alcohol, ethanol or spirits of wine in any form, including all dilutions and mixtures thereof from whatever process produced.

NRS 202.030 – Minor loitering in place where alcoholic beverages sold.

Any person under 21 years of age who shall loiter or remain on the premises of any saloon where spirituous, malt or fermented liquors or wines are sold shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500. Nothing in this section shall apply to:

  1. Establishments wherein spirituous, malt or fermented liquors or wines are served only in conjunction with regular meals and where dining tables or booths are provided separate from the bar; or
  2. Any grocery store or drugstore where spirituous, malt or fermented liquors or wines are not sold by the drink for consumption on the premises.

Isn’t a minor anyone under 18? Why does the statute say under 21?

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Consequently, any time the word “minor” is used in relation to a law about drinking, the ‘age of minority’ is 21, not 18.

So what does it mean by loitering in a bar?

In this case, the term “loitering” really just means that a minor cannot “remain” in a bar. Considering that this is Nevada, there is a certain logic to this because there are three types of bars in Nevada: stand alone, meaning that their main purpose is to serve alcoholic beverages; those that are a part of a casino; and those that are part of a restaurant or other business, not a casino, where the service of alcohol is only a part of the business.

For stand alone bars, this law should be fairly obvious because anyone under the age of 21 is not even permitted inside. Clearly, if a minor is not allowed to enter, then they also are not allowed to remain.

For bars that are a part of a casino, there are two variations: hotel casinos, and standalone casinos. A stand alone casino works much like a stand alone bar in that minors are not permitted on the premises at all, so clearly, they are not permitted to remain on the premises either. Hotel casinos, on the other hand, are a bit different, in that minors are clearly allowed to be in the hotel part of the business, but are not permitted to “remain” in the casino or bar areas. This is usually enforced by simply not allowing minors to stop and “remain” in the bar or casino. In other words, so long as the minor is simply passing through the bar or casino area, then they will not be bothered, and they are not violating NRS 202.030. This is why minors who stop in the bar or casino area, even just for a moment to see something or watch a TV are immediately asked to leave.

For bars that are a part of a business that has a main purpose other than the service of alcohol, minors are permitted to remain in the building. This should be obvious because the alternative would mean that minors weren’t allowed to be in restaurants.

What are the possible penalties?

The minor who remained on the premises of a bar can be fined up to $500.

The bar is only in trouble if they knowingly allow the minor to remain, in which case they would be in violation of NRS 202.060, a more full explanation of which can be found here. This would also apply to a bar that saw someone who could be a minor but did not ask for an ID to verify the minor’s age.

If the minor were to gain admittance to the bar by using a fake ID, they would be in violation of NRS 202.040, a more full explanation of which can be found here.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. However, the defenses are very fact specific, and include:

  • Allowed to be there – As noted above, minors are permitted to be on the premises of bars that are a part of other businesses, such as restaurants and hotel/casinos. Consequently, if the minor were in one of those particular businesses, then they may be able to show that they were permitted on the premises and were not “remaining” in areas they were not allowed. Under these circumstances, any charges should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Mistaken Identity – If the alleged minor is, in fact, at least 21 years of age, then they are not a minor. If they are charged because they appeared to by under the age of 21, then they can simply prove their age and any such charges should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.

What should I do if I’ve been charged with being a Minor Loitering in a Bar?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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