College students may have different concerns when they are arrested for a criminal offense in California. Like anyone else, college students facing criminal charges may be looking at jail time, fines, probation, and other criminal penalties. However, college students may also risk losing out on future opportunities in education, financial aid, and future job prospects.
Before you plead guilty, make sure you understand what a criminal conviction can mean for your future. If you are a university or college student who was arrested in the East Bay, please contact Gorelick Law Offices for a free consultation to talk about your rights and how to fight the criminal charges against you.
California College Students and Criminal Charges
Many college students experience a number of “firsts” when they go away to college. This includes hanging out with a new group of people, experimenting with alcohol and possibly other drugs, and speaking out against authority. However, college can also mean an individual's first run-in with the law.
Common criminal charges for university students in California may include:
- Drunk Driving
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Underage Possession of Marijuana
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Resisting Arrest
- Assault and Battery
- Sexual Assault
- Disturbing the Peace
- Domestic Violence
A number of these criminal activities may be motivated by drugs or alcohol. Inexperience with drinking too much can cause a person to do things they normally would not do, including getting into fights or getting behind the wheel. Increased use of drugs or alcohol among peers and friends may make a student forget that many activities involving alcohol or drugs are still against the law, even if it seems commonplace.
DUIs for College Students
One of the most common criminal offenses in California, including for college students, is a DUI. College may be the first time young people have regular access to alcohol and a car. The penalties for a DUI can be harsh. For students under the age of 21, California has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Even if the underage driver is not drunk, he or she can still be arrested for a DUI. Another concern for students is the possibility of being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana hours or days after the effects have worn off.
Drug Charges On or Off Campus
Drug charges are another common crime for young people. Many students may not be sure where the law stands on drug use and possession in California because of the recent changes in marijuana laws. However, it is still a violation for people under-21 to buy or possess marijuana and it is generally against the law for individuals to sell marijuana to others.
Other controlled substances are treated much more harshly. Possession of a certain amount of drugs can lead to criminal charges for drug possession with the intent to sell. This includes illegal drugs like ecstasy, MDMA, or LSD. However, it is also illegal to possess prescription drugs like Vicodin, Adderall, OxyContin, or Xanax without a valid prescription, or to sell any controlled substances.
Campus Sexual Assault
Campus sexual assault is a big topic on college campuses. Alcohol and drug use in intimate situations can make it difficult to remember exactly what happened. Unfortunately for many young people, they can face an arrest for sexual assault even if they did nothing wrong. Sex offense convictions can carry life-long consequences. If a college student is accused of doing something wrong, he or she should consider immediately contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Consequences for University Students Arrested for a Crime
The penalties and consequences of a criminal conviction depend on the type of crime and the defendant's criminal history. Criminal penalties may include:
- Jail time;
- Mandatory counseling or education; and
- Loss of drivers' license.
However, even after serving a criminal sentence, there may be long-lasting effects of a conviction and other collateral consequences. This includes restrictions on the right to own a firearm, serve on a jury, run for office, or receive government benefits.
College and university students may face additional consequences for a criminal conviction in California, including:
- Restrictions on pursuing certain professions or professional licenses,
- Prohibit receiving financial aid or scholarships,
- Lose eligibility for financial aid,
- Lose internships,
- Restrict pursuing a graduate degree or professional degree, and
- Suspension or expulsion from school.
Loss of Financial Aid Loans and Grant Money
One of the most costly consequences of certain criminal convictions for college students is the loss of scholarships or financial aid. Certain crimes, including drug convictions or sex offenses, may make you ineligible for federal financial aid. Private scholarships may also have provisions that a criminal conviction could make the student ineligible for scholarship money.
School Disciplinary Proceedings
Even if a student is not found guilty of a crime, the university may still pursue disciplinary proceedings if the student has violated the college's code of conduct or there are other violations of school regulations. School disciplinary proceedings may also have fewer legal protections for individuals than the criminal courts. The disciplinary penalties can include:
- Loss of eligibility for college athletics,
- Loss of scholarships,
- Mandatory education, or
- Any other disciplinary measures provided by the university regulations.
Criminal Defense for College Students
College students may have fewer resources because they are far away from home and generally have limited financial resources. However, with so much at stake, students and their families should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney with a successful record of defending college students facing criminal and disciplinary proceedings.
University Student Criminal Defense Attorney in the East Bay
Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of criminal defense experience defending college students facing criminal charges in the East Bay. She understands what is at stake and how to defend students in criminal court and school disciplinary hearings. If you are a university student facing criminal charges in Alameda County and want to know your options, contact Gorelick Law Offices today.