Berks County is the site of 3 colleges, and a campus of Penn State, along with several other community colleges and learning institutions. Although going off to college is a learning experience for many students, sometimes the lessons occur outside of the classroom. College is many students' first time away from the guidance of their parents. While this is a valuable experience, certain students may find themselves in positions with the potential for poor decision making. Many of these instances are simple lapses in judgement, but the consequences are real. Students can find themselves in trouble with both their academic institution and the law.
Student Defense in Berks County
When students are involved in criminal incidents, they may be faced with more than criminal charges. Many times, local law enforcement works directly with the nearby college to share information. This means that students are fighting a battle on two fronts: one with the state and one with their college. Colleges often have their own disciplinary processes for governing their student body, which may result in a student losing their academic career. It is highly advisable to have an attorney throughout criminal proceedings, however, in certain cases, a student may also be aided by an attorney throughout any disciplinary measures at their college as well.
Common Criminal Charges for Students in Berks County
a student may sometimes be involved in a number of situations that can constitute criminal charges
- Sex Crimes: Sex crimes can include actions such as sexual assault, rape, and similar crimes. When a student is accused of a sex crime, it will be treated very seriously by both the state of Pennsylvania and also their own university. Most academic institutions uphold a Title IX policy throughout their student community. Violations of the Title IX policy can result in a student's suspension or expulsion.
- Harassment: Crimes of harassment can include actions such as stalking, online harassment, and sexual harassment. These incidents can often stem from misunderstandings between two people, which are commonplace in a college environment.
- Theft: Due to the high amounts of expensive devices students have, theft is common in a college environment. Students often bring with them laptops, phones, televisions, video games, and other items that may fall prey to thieving hands. When a student is accused of theft, they are likely to face these charges from both their college and the local state authorities.
- Property Crime: Vandalism and destruction of property are both prime examples of types of property crime that are frequent on college campuses. Many times alcohol consumption may goad young individuals into brazen acts such as these. While these types of crimes are not always treated as seriously by local authorities, they can still result in hefty fines. Colleges may seek to remove a student from campus who has been found guilty of vandalism.
- Fake I.D.'s: One of the most common sources of trouble on a college campus is the possession of a fake I.D. Fake I.D.'s are used by underage individuals to purchase alcohol. In most cases, if a person is caught in possession of a fake I.D. at a bar or liquor store, the owner will simply confiscate the document.
- Underage Drinking: There are many situations in which a student may find themselves in a position where there is a potential for underage consumption of alcohol. Alcohol consumption under the age of 21 is a crime, though oftentimes, consequences will be harsher from the position of the college. A student may lose their access to on-campus housing if they are caught drinking.
- Possession of Weapons: Most college campuses strictly forbid a person to possess or even carry a weapon on their campuses. This may also be outlawed by the jurisdiction that the campus lies within. Possessing a weapon on campus may result in a student facing criminal charges, and likely losing their ability to live on campus.
- Drug Crimes: When a student is in possession of drugs on campus, they may face both criminal charges and disciplinary actions from their college. Students may lose their housing privileges, in addition to any criminal consequences that may arise.
- Violent Crimes: Actions such as fighting, assault, or any instances of domestic violence carry both criminal and disciplinary consequences for students accused of committing these acts. In some of these cases, students may face Title IX charges, and their academic and professional careers will be at risk.
Berks County Criminal Charges and How Your College or University Will Respond
Criminal charges against Berks County college students will often result in disciplinary proceedings at the school level. The following links provide specific information as to the respective Berks County schools' Code of Conduct disciplinary procedures when students are accused of conduct that may result in criminal charges, or did in fact result in criminal charges:
- Albright College Disciplinary Charge
- Alvernia University Disciplinary Charge
- Kutztown University Disciplinary Charge
The following links provides information regarding how individual Berks County colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and Title IX sexual misconduct against students:
- Albright College Sexual Assault Charge
- Alvernia University Sexual Assault Charge
- Kutztown University Disciplinary Charge
Criminal charges may be filed before a student's college or university initiates disciplinary proceedings against the student, or they may be filed after such proceedings have started or even concluded. Because the risk of criminal exposure as well as potential civil liability can be so great, a Berks County student and his or her family, regardless of whether the student is facing criminal charges that have already been filed or the prospect of criminal charges, must make sure the student's interests are protected both in the criminal forum and at the school level.