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“I give Mr. Spano the highest possible recommendation. Mr. Spano helped me navigate a somewhat unorthodox legal matter, did so quickly, and always kept me informed.”
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“Thank you for assuring me that just because a good honest person makes a mistake does not mean they have to be treated like a criminal!” — D.S.

Five big consequences for getting in trouble with the law at college

Temptation for trouble can be found all over college campuses. On a Friday night several houses near campus are packed full of students. They have cups filled to the top with beer and the air is hazy with smoke. Once the party is over the consequences can be serious. Getting caught drinking underage, using drugs, or other prohibited activities can affect a student's life long after graduation.

Of course, the biggest concern is criminal charges. If that is your situation, you need to contact a strong criminal defense attorney right away. In impaired driving cases, loss of driving privileges is also a real concern. Here, too, it is important to get smart legal counsel to protect your position.

There are also other consequences that you might not immediately think of from brushes with the law while attending a college or university. These include:

1. Academic suspension and campus housing expulsion

Every college has their own code of conduct and the penalties can vary case by case. Committing repeated low levels of misconduct or one major mistake can result in academic probation for a month or suspension for up to a year. For example at Cornell University low-level misconduct is considered underage drinking while more serious matters involve fights. A student could be suspended for three cases of underage drinking or one case of assault. The most common reason for students getting arrested on college campuses is underage drinking. If students are caught drinking in their dorm under the age of 21, they could get kicked out of campus housing.

2. Federal student aid revoked

Not only can students face suspension and housing expulsion, any students caught with illegal drugs can have their federal student aid revoked. Students can get charged with possession of weed even if they are in the presence of others using it. Therefore if a student is caught smoking weed with their friends then their federal student aid can get taken away. For students relying on student aid this would be a devastating moment.

3. Graduation and diploma withheld

After years of paying high tuition fees and cramming in study sessions, most students cannot wait to graduate. But even serious students can make a big mistake. If an offense is serious enough a college has the right to withhold a diploma. Serious offenses can include acts of violence or selling drugs. The school can withhold a diploma until the student complies with given rules and penalties. Unfortunately this can mean that a student will miss their big graduation day, even if they get to eventually walk away with their diploma.

4. Some grad schools might not accept you

When a student gets in trouble in college it will get marked down into disciplinary records. These records are kept at the school for an average of six years after graduation. Grad schools will almost always take a look at student disciplinary records and can choose to turn the student down for acceptance. A marked record is not the end of the world because students could wait and have their disciplinary records expunged. But this is something you need to be proactive about addressing.

5. Future employers could turn you away

In a market overloaded with new college graduates it can be difficult to land a job right out of school. It can be especially difficult for graduates with disciplinary records. Some employers will request student records. It is within your rights under FERPA to deny them access, but if you are applying for working within a government agency then they will require access.

If you or your student has gotten into trouble with the law then contact an experienced attorney. The future is at stake.

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