It’s normal for parents to be worried as their high school graduates prepare to go to college. There are many ways for a college student to get in trouble on a campus, which is why it’s important to be aware of the common issues and potential consequences.
1. Sexual assault
The first week back on campus is a known “party week.” When college students are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, senses can be dulled and poor decisions made. Many students find themselves accused of sexual assault. The consequences of a sexual assault charge are very severe, including felony charges, extensive prison time and having to register as a sex offender for the rest of the person’s life.
In addition to criminal charges, your college student could be facing trouble at school. Most colleges and universities have honor code provisions regarding sexual behavior. A violation of these codes can result in a suspension or expulsion. An honor board hearing will be held to determine the appropriate punishment. It is extremely important that your child is represented by a lawyer during these proceedings.
2. Underage drinking
College parties and an environment free of parental supervisions can lead to students engaging in their fair share of drinking. However, even though your child may be 18 and on his own, underage drinking is still a crime and can result in formal charges and serious penalties. A minor in possession of alcohol can face misdemeanor charges, and a DUI can mean a driver’s license suspension.
3. Public drunkenness
Being intoxicated in public – also known as being drunk and disorderly – is a crime no matter whether the person is of legal drinking age or not. Public drunkenness is a misdemeanor charge, but keep in mind that a person can be charged based on their behavior regardless of their actual blood-alcohol content.
4. Marijuana possession
Using or possessing marijuana is still illegal in the state of Maryland. While it is a misdemeanor offense, even a first offense is still punishable by up to one year in prison due to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Possession with intent to distribute or distribution of marijuana charges, as well as repeat offenses, carry additional penalties and longer sentences. Remember, a criminal drug conviction can also jeopardize a student’s ability to get federal financial aid.
5. Possession of a fake ID
While it may seem like a victimless crime, being caught using a fake ID can lead to misdemeanor charges and a possible sentence of six months in jail and a $500 fine. Producing and selling fake IDs is a far more serious matter and can mean up to two years in prison. Keep in mind that if the ID was used to purchase alcohol, the person may also be facing underage drinking charges.
Disagreements can happen over everything from relationships to parking spaces, and alcohol- and hormone-fueled college environments usually don’t help. When things escalate into physical altercations, criminal charges may result. A person can be charged with assault and battery if he/she physically strikes another person or even attempts to. There does not need to be any serious injuries for assault to be charged.
College students are adults, and criminal charges will follow them for life
Unfortunately, once someone is 18 and graduated from high school, these are no longer considered teenage antics or youthful indiscretions. Being caught in any of the above situations can lead to both academic and legal consequences. If convicted, your child will have a permanent criminal record, and this can impact the ability to get a job in certain sectors or even move on to graduate school. Colleges often have other penalties, including losing financial aid or being suspended or expelled.