College students are in the process of trial and error in their lives. They are becoming autonomous adults for the first time, and with that come many mistakes, including sometimes negligent or criminal behavior. Most college students will seek out attorneys in the civil realm, to fight for their rights in the landlord/tenant landscape. That’s because usually college students are renting their property, and landlords can take advantage of the unsophisticated. Sometimes students can get involved criminally, and will need a good criminal defense attorney to represent them.
The most common mistakes college students make have to do with alcohol. Binge drinking on college campuses is commonplace, and young people tend to do more stupid things as a result. College students get caught with alcohol when they are underage, or they are drunk in public, or even, most seriously, they begin driving while intoxicated. All of these crimes will need the advice of a good criminal defense attorney, even if they range in levels of seriousness. Because many times college students have not yet been in trouble with the law, they will not have a criminal record. Attorneys can use this to their advantage in defense work, often times resulting in a more lenient punishment from the prosecution. This can result either in a dismissal, or even a diversion agreement, where the student accepts what is called ‘deferred prosecution.’ The student must complete either certain courses, training, and stay out of trouble for a certain period of time (usually 6 months to a year), and then the case will be dismissed if the student successfully completed their diversion.
Unfortunately, there has also been an increase in either the incidents or awareness of sexual violence on campus. This has resulted in campus crackdowns on the arrest and prosecution of sexual incidents, including rape, on campus. A good defense attorney should be aware of the campus policies and procedures for the criminal process, as there can be several collateral effects for the result in a criminal prosecution, including suspension or expulsion from the university. A good criminal defense attorney must be willing to work with the student on achieving a positive result both in the criminal courts and on campus.
Finally, college is often a time for experimentation in life, which can include the use or abuse of illegal drugs. Even seemingly harmless experimentation can have severe consequences. If you are at a party experimenting with drugs and the police are called, you can be charged with multiple kinds of drug charges. The allure of a quick buck can also cause young, often broke college students to engage in the sale or trafficking of drugs – another crime. Attorneys with experience defending drug crimes can usually help mitigate these offenses. They will emphasize the student’s good school record, lack of criminal record, and might even use their grades or degree (if they are particularly good) to show the court that this is not a sign of consistent behavior from the student, but rather a youthful indiscretion.
Either way, involving an attorney might seem expensive and unnecessary for the somewhat minimal crimes committed by students in college. However, the consequences of a guilty plea can be severe and detrimental to the future of the student, including their ability to continue their education or embark upon a career. Getting an attorney involved right away can help mitigate the consequences, or even result in a result that will dismiss the case.