College years can be a magical time. Years spent in lecture halls absorbing the knowledge of tenured professors, all while working towards a coveted degree. Late study nights, coffee breaks and falling asleep on the books. Then there is the other side of the college years. Study by day and let loose at night.
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Many students are living away from home for the first time and make mistakes. Alcohol and drug experimentation among college age students is common. But what happens when they get caught?
Criminal Charges Against College Students
The following criminal charges against college students are common. Familiarize yourself with the dangers that exist.
- DWI – Driving while intoxicated. Alcohol and driving should never be mixed. College students often feel the invincibility of teenagers and will put themselves behind the wheel after drinking. A DUI can result in a suspended license, community service, and alcohol awareness classes. Even worse, a DUI can be part of a permanent record.
- MIP – Minor in possession. The college house party or dorm consumption ar two primary places where law enforcement officers issue MIPs in a college town. Students often feel safe in these locations, but a loud party can prompt a phone call that ends the night. This infraction can carry similar consequences of a DUI — loss of license and community service is common.
- Possession of Fake ID. Some students rush the growing up processes and get a fake ID to allow entrance into bars and clubs. This is a very common crime, often enforced as a misdemeanor.
- Disorderly Conduct. This can be a wide range of things — playing music too loud, starting a fight, or physically out of control. Like the fake identification charge, this is most often treated as a misdemeanor and may result in community service.
- Assault. Misdemeanor assault includes minor infractions like pushing, punching or shoving someone. Felony assault is much more serious. Shooting, stabbing, or attempting to do serious harm. Charges depend on the extent of the injury.
- Sexual Assault/Rape. This is a serious felony offense. Sadly, this type of assault is a growing problem in college towns across the United States. It is often related to alcohol and drug use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Cases
The statute of limitation is a limit on the time period a prosecutor has to file formal charges against a suspect. Under most circumstances, if the statute of limitations has passed, you cannot be prosecuted for the crime. In Texas, the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is 2 years. The time limitation for felonies varies depending on the crime, and in some cases, such as murder, there is no time limit.
Learn more about the statute of limitations for crimes in Texas.
In most cases, law enforcement must show there is “probable” cause to suspect illegal activity or possession of contraband and obtain a search warrant in order to search your person or property. There are exceptions, however, such as if the person consents to the search, or if the evidence is in clearly visible.
Find out more about when a search warrant is needed.
If you have a clear record and are charged with a criminal case in Houston such as theft or drug possession, there are two ways to keep these off your criminal record. With deferred adjudication, you will have to plead guilty, and the judge will set aside finding of guilt until you’ve completed probation successfully. Pretrial diversion is a program you first must apply to be accepted into, and every court has different requirements. If you are accepted into the program, you sign a 1 year contract with the DA’s office with specific conditions you must meet. After successful completion, the case will be dismissed.
Learn more about deferred adjudication and pretrial diversion.
What To Do Next
If you or a family member has been charged with one of these crimes, it’s important to take immediate action. The faster you work to solve the problem, the better chance of getting ahead. This is where Houston criminal defense attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss can help. Strauss has many years of experience handling charges against college students can work to reduce the punishment and keep the crime off your permanent records. Mistakes happen, and when they do — Lisa Shapiro Strauss is here to help.