Your college years are bound to be some of the most exciting times in your life. In addition to getting an education to enhance your future prospects for a career, you will meet new friends, and be exposed to new and different social experiences. However, with no one to really watch over you and feeling a sense of independents, your college years are also the time when individuals make mistakes and often those mistakes can lead to criminal charges and serious consequences if found guilty. In these unfortunate situations, it is critical to contact a San Diego college crimes lawyer to discuss your available options.
California is home to UC San Diego, San Diego State University, California State University, University of San Diego, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College. It is also home to McElfresh Law, a criminal defense law firm with a wealth of experience representing college students charged with the following offenses:
- Hazing – Centuries-old traditions of initiation into college clubs and groups have the potential of producing harm to the person being hazed. When this happens, hazing turns from harmless fun to a punishable crime and can have a tremendous impact on the person facing the court.
- Drunk in public – Having a couple of drinks with friends is not illegal as long as you are 21 or older. However, when alcohol consumption causes impairment to the level where you are not able to keep yourself safe or you interfere with the public’s ability to use public ways, you can be charged with drunk in public.
- Minor in possession of alcohol – While for the most part, college and high school student are fully aware that the law prohibits the consumption of alcohol until the age of 21, what many are ignorant of is the fact that it is also illegal to be in possession of any alcoholic beverage.
- Possession of a fake ID – Many college students explore the option of a fake identification for the purpose of drinking alcohol or getting into a club. If you display or are found in possession of a fake identification, you may be arrested and charged.
Whether the offense is classified as a felony or a misdemeanor, each will carry both judicial and other consequences that can affect your future. If you are charged with any of these crimes, you can depend on a lawyer at McElfresh Law.
What are the Consequences?
Even if you are able to escape jail time at sentencing, all convictions carry some consequences in the form of penalties for your actions. In addition to the court’s sentencing, there are other non-judicial repercussions that will await a defendant if he or she is found guilty or pleads guilty to a college crime. While fighting your charges is predicated on your innocence, it is important to know the possible consequences associated with the offense with which you are charged.
Jail or Prison Time
If you are sentenced to spend time in jail or prison for the charge you are convicted of, the amount of time behind bars will be determined by a number of factors. Whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor, and your criminal history will all contribute to the number of jail time a judge will impose at the time of sentencing. It is important to note that not all college crimes carry penal penalties. So for example, if you are found guilty of minor in possession of alcohol, there is no jail time associated with this offense. The following are the maximum jail time for each college crime in this category:
- Hazing – 1 year for misdemeanor hazing and 3 years for felony hazing
- Drunk in public – 6 months
- Possession of fake ID – 1 year for the misdemeanor and up to 3 years for felony possession of a fake identification.
If you find yourself being sentenced, having a San Diego lawyer who is able to present arguments to mitigate on your behalf will help you avoid possible prison time.
As an alternative to jail time, a court may sentence you to probation. Depending on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony the probation time will vary. While probation is a “get away from jail” sentence, a breach of the conditions can send you straight to jail.
All college crimes carry a fine. A fine can be imposed as the only penalty or may be in addition to other sentencing options. The maximum fine for each offense is as follows:
- Hazing – $5,000 for misdemeanor hazing
- Drunk in public – $1,000
- Minor in possession of alcohol – $250 on your fit conviction and $500 for a repeat offender.
- Possession of a fake ID – $1000 for the misdemeanor and up to $10,000 for a felony charge.
Suspension of driving privilege
While none of the college crimes discussed here are DUI related offenses, if you are found guilty of minor in possession of alcohol, your driver’s license can be suspended for upwards of a year. If you are a college student without a driver’s license, the penalty will represent a one-year suspension in your ability to apply.
All college crimes will form part of your criminal record if you are found guilty. If at the time of the offense you were a minor, your lawyer may be able to request for your record to be sealed. Having a criminal record can have significant consequences on future college applications and getting a job in the future. While there is always the possibility of expunging your record, it is always better to avoid any criminal conviction by hiring a San Diego college crimes lawyer.
School disciplinary actions
In addition to penalties that are triggered by the court, you can also face disciplinary actions from your school. College administrators can be strict in relation to offenses committed on school premises and against a fellow student. Such disciplinary actions can have temporary or permanent effects on your life as a student. It is, therefore, paramount to fight your charges in court.
Hire A San Diego College Crimes Lawyer If You Are Charged
You should never try to defend yourself in a criminal court. Whether you consider it serious or not, having a lawyer who has a comprehensive knowledge of the law and the working of the court system will be your greatest asset. Your lawyer will be able to do the following:
- Get charges dismissed – When you are arrested and charge it will be based on evidence in the possession of the police at the time of the arrest. However, as the investigation proceed, the prosecution may not have the required evidence to continue with the case. A criminal defense lawyer is trained with the legal competent to file the required pre-trial motions to secure the dismissal of your charges without you needing to go to trial.
- Have charges reduced – In some instances the police will choose to charge you with the major crime, but when the evidence is challenged by your lawyer at pre-trial you may only face a lesser charge.
- Prepare a sound defense – You are innocent until proven guilty and while it is up to the prosecution to proof your guilt, your criminal defense lawyer will prepare a sound defense to prove your innocence.
- Mitigation – If you must plead guilty or you are convicted, it is still not the end of the road. There are a number of sentencing options available to the court. The prosecution will be seeking the highest penalty while your lawyer will be working to get you the least penalties possible. Without a lawyer sentencing can be a nightmare.
In most instances you will not be financially equipped to hire a lawyer. Your parents will generally be responsible for your legal bills. However, only you know the truth, so it is important to discuss your case with your lawyer and share all the information you have.
How a San Diego College Crimes Attorney Can Help
At McElfresh Law, we understand how valuable a college education is to create a strong foundation for the future. While we would prefer you are not getting into any trouble, if you find yourself facing any of these offenses listed on this page, give us a call at (858) 756-7107.