Court Rules in House Party Mother Case – Risks and Criminal Prosecution Involved with House Parties and Underage Consumption of Alcohol

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The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach upheld the trial court’s conviction of Diane Katz Santarelli. The trial court charged Santarelli with a misdemeanor of allowing an open house party and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges were based on allegations that at some point during the open house party Jesse Calvin Pitts, a minor, drove from Santarelli’s residence in a vehicle with Taylor Rea Brennan (also a minor) as his passenger. Pitts and Brennan subsequently died in a car crash on State Road 13 after leaving the party. Santarelli’s attorney, Gerald S. Bettman said that she will decide whether she wants to ask the court of appeal to reconsider or take the case to the Florida Supreme Court. For more information, see court rules against house party mother.
An open house party was traditionally referred to as a party or social gathering that is scheduled for a period of hours, sometimes for an entire day, with no set time of arrival or departure. However, more recently open house parties often refer to parties at a house involving primarily young persons, under the age of 21, that drink alcohol and take illegal drugs. Florida Statute 856.015 defines an illegal open house party as:
No person having control of any residence shall allow an open house party to take place at said residence if any alcoholic beverage or drug is possessed or consumed at said residence by any minor where the person knows that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in the possession of or being consumed by a minor at said residence and where the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug.
A violation is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor. For more information on Open House Party laws, see Florida Statute 856.015.

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