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Dad Arrested Over Playboy-Themed Party for Daughter: 3 Legal Lessons

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on January 08, 2015 9:51 AM

A California father's Playboy Mansion-themed party for his daughter's 18th birthday wasn't just in questionable taste, it was also allegedly criminal.

San Diego County sheriff's deputies arrested attorney Jeffrey Lake, 48, for violating a local social host ordinance, reports the Poway News Chieftan. There were reportedly as many as 200 people at the party, including many scantily clad teenage girls and underage drinkers. Deputies reported finding one 16-year-old passed out in a bathroom who had urinated on himself and another 19-year-old passed out in a bedroom closet.

What can other dads learn from Lake's potentially costly mistake? Here are three legal lessons:

  1. Social host laws and liability. In some jurisdictions -- such as the city of Poway where Lake resides -- social host laws make it a crime to provide alcohol to minors or even allow minors to drink alcohol. In addition, civil social host liability can make adults who provide alcohol to minors (or even over-intoxicated adults) liable for injuries or deaths caused by the intoxicated person.
  2. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Social host laws aren't the only way that parents or other adults can get arrested for hosting a party that provides alcohol to underage drinkers. Adults may also be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In most states, it's a misdemeanor to commit an act that causes or has the tendency to cause a minor to become or remain a delinquent, such as providing or purchasing alcohol for the minor.
  3. Restitution for law enforcement response. Lake will reportedly be charged $3,600 to cover the deputies' response to the party. Restitution is typically a payment made by the perpetrator of a crime to the victims of that crime. But in some instances, a person may also be ordered to pay restitution to police to offset the costs of response by law enforcement.

In addition to restitution for law enforcement services, if Lake is convicted, he may be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail for violating the city's social host ordinance.

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