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3 ways a college student’s criminal charges could damage their future

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

People are often dismissive about the mistakes that college students make. When a young adult gets arrested for underage drinking or drug possession, people might roll their eyes and joke about learning through experience. On the flip side, a parent may be so dismayed at a student’s wrongdoing that they vow to withhold help in an attempt to help them “learn the hard way.”

There is often an assumption that the legal system should treat college students and other young adults with a degree of lenience when they make a mistake. However, many college students discover that the exact opposite is often the case. There is no guarantee of compassionate sentencing when a college student breaks the law. A single criminal infraction could be enough to irrevocably alter the course of a student’s life. As such, it’s important to respond as proactively as possible in defending against allegations of unlawful wrongdoing. One mistake of youth should not irrevocably alter a young adult’s future for the worse.

Loss of enrollment

Most colleges and universities have very specific behavioral standards for students. Their policies may include strict rules about criminal convictions. Colleges can take disciplinary action against students accused or convicted of criminal offenses. From refusing to let someone participate in extracurricular activities to rescinding their enrollment, the penalties possible during on-campus disciplinary hearings could prevent a young adult from completing their education.

Loss of financial aid

Reform at the federal level has somewhat diminished the negative effect that a single criminal conviction has on someone’s eligibility for financial aid. However, a student currently receiving financial aid might lose it at the time of their conviction. Depending on the type of offense, they may become temporarily ineligible for federal student aid. Many private scholarship programs also deny funding to those with criminal convictions on their records.

The limitations of a criminal record

Even if a college student manages to continue their education and avoid the worst penalties the courts might impose, they have to worry about the official record of their conviction. Once they graduate, the record of their college criminal offense may show up every time they apply for a new job or seek a promotion with their current employer. Those frustrated by a young adult’s recent arrest may question whether they should follow the tough-love philosophy and let the student suffer the consequences of their choices. However, it is often best to help young adults respond to college criminal charges as a way of diminishing the long-term impact that they may have on that student’s future.

A young adult’s arrest and prosecution – in and of itself – is a profound experience that may deter them from making similar mistakes in the future. Understanding the harm that a college criminal offense can cause may help people see the value in responding assertively to a pending charge.