Charges against college students can have a profound impact on a young person's future. Whenever you are charged with any crime, ranging from impaired driving to sexual assault offenses, your academic career can suffer and your future can be affected in many different ways. If you are in college and have been accused of a criminal act, you may be reluctant to let your parents know you need help finding a lawyer - but do not wait to get yourself the help you need to try to avoid the profound risk to your future academic and employment prospects.
Charges Against College Students Can Have Serious Consequences
While college students can be charged with many different kinds of crimes, two of the most common criminal offenses they are faced with include alcohol offenses and sexual assault offenses.
Drunk driving and other alcohol-related offenses can be a major problem for students who visit bars, attend off-campus parties, participate in fraternity activities, and attend sporting events. Drinking is a part of college life, but getting behind the wheel impaired, consuming alcohol underage, or being drunk in public can lead to an arrest that puts an end to a carefree college career.
College athletes can be kicked off teams for drunk driving charges and US News and World Report indicates any past conviction (even DWI) can result in difficulty getting into med schools and other graduate programs. Students who are convicted of impaired driving may lose scholarship funding, and their criminal records can affect job prospects when background checks are conducted. If the drunk driving conviction results in required jail time, this can also mean missing classes and getting lower grades as a result.
Drug and alcohol crimes are not the only criminal charges college students need to worry about. Sexual assault is a much more serious crime than impaired driving, and is becoming a big issue on campus. Washington Post reports there is increasing momentum for the United States Senate to address sexual assault on college campuses. Senator Patty Murray stated: "There should be no question that sexual violence on campus is a widespread, growing and unacceptable problem," and schools are at risk of federal funding if they do not improve their procedures for handling assault cases as required by Title IX.
Schools are increasingly moving towards enforcing affirmative consent standards as they fear loss of federal dollars, which means an individual must get an affirmative "yes" at every stage of a sexual encounter, rather than simply proceeding unless his or her partner says "no." Students are also being warned that a person who is drunk cannot consent. There are some concerns that school disciplinary proceedings are going too far and that people who are accused are not getting the benefit of due process or a lawyer before they face consequences like expulsion, which could destroy their future. Several lawsuits have been filed against schools by individuals who claim they were treated unfairly after a rape accusation, including one case reported by the Huffington Post in which a student sued Columbia University.
Regardless of what specific charges you may be facing for crimes while in college, you need to understand what your options are for defending yourself and for protecting your rights.