Sixteen young people arrested Saturday night for alleged underage drinking at a Hingham home could avoid charges if they complete a diversion program of counseling and community service, a Hingham police spokesman said.
Sergeant Steven Dearth said that 16 minors ranging from 17 to 20 years of age and one 21-year-old woman were arrested that night. All were facing charges of disturbing the peace after a birthday party at the Hingham residence; all but the 21-year-old also faced charges of underage drinking.
All 17 appeared before Judge Francis Marini in Hingham District Court Tuesday for possible arraignment. However, the judge delayed the arraignment, allowing the accused to participate in a diversion program, which would keep the criminal complaints off their records.
They are all scheduled to appear before a judge again on June 20 to report if and when they plan to participate in the diversion program, which is run by the Plymouth Country district attorney’s office. Anyone who has a criminal record will not be eligible for the program and will face arraignment at that time.
Dearth said a criminal complaint was filed with the court Tuesday to charge 51-year-old William Hacking with violating the state’s Social Host Law, which prohibits serving alcohol to minors; keeping a noisy and disorderly home; and disturbing the peace.
“We believe we have probable cause to charge him,” Dearth said.
A clerk magistrate will hold a probable cause hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to charge Hacking with a crime. A hearing date has not been set.
Timothy Shyne, Hacking’s attorney, said his client did not know alcohol was being served at the party. However, Shyne said the Social Host Law is so broad that he could be charged anyway.
“Typically if the police can show any type of probability, the case moves on,” Shyne said.
“If it’s a clerk magistrate hearing, sometimes clerks have to conform to political pressure. This case got a lot of attention. They may let the judge deal with it and may issue the complaint, and it would be arraigned in the normal court of business.”Jessica Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.