Chester County is home to 5 standalone four-year academic institutions, as well as a campus of Penn State, and a few other academic and trade schools. While going off to college is a learning time for many students, the lack of parental supervision also opens up the doors to the potential for trouble. A student's time at college is often their first time away from home, which is a valuable experience, however, at times, a student may not always make the best decisions. The college environment provides a student many freedoms but also exposes them to a variety of circumstances that can get them into trouble with their college, and sometimes, the law.
Student Defense in Chester County
If a student becomes involved in a criminal incident, or one that compromises their status with their academic institution, they will often eventually face accusations from the other entity. Colleges often have their own police force or work directly with police in the local community. This means that a student is likely to face both criminal charges and college disciplinary actions at the same time. Although a student may be found "not guilty" at the criminal level, an academic institution governs its own policies on a student's standing, so the verdicts may not match. There is hope for students in these situations. An attorney can make a strong difference in the outcome of both cases, at the college and criminal levels.
Common Criminal Charges Students Face in Chester County
There are a number of circumstances that can involve a student that may result in criminal charges or college disciplinary action. Some of these can include:
- Drug Crimes: A majority of college campuses nationwide forbid the possession of any drugs, including marijuana, on their campuses, even if the state has allowed recreational usage. A student found in possession of drugs is likely to be reported both to the college authorities as well as local police. Consequences of drug possession at the college level can mean loss of housing, while criminal consequences can mean fines and even jail time.
- Hazing: While it is no secret that fraternity and sorority organizations often require the student to participate in difficult entry rituals, at times, these rituals may qualify as hazing. Hazing rarely results in criminal charges, however, aspects of hazing, such as underage drinking may result in separate criminal charges. In addition, hazing accusations often result in the dissolution of the Greek life organization that has been accused of hazing.
- Underage Drinking: One of the most common situations a student may find themselves in is one where underage individuals are consuming alcohol. Many times, these circumstances do not lead to criminal charges, except in extreme cases, however, the influence of alcohol can lead to criminal acts. In addition, alcohol consumption is sometimes grounds for a university or college to ban a student from living on campus.
- Fake I.D.'s: It is common for students to possess a fake I.D. on a college campus. While a majority of the time, liquor stores or bars that encounter fake I.D.'s will simply destroy or dispose of them, if a college authority or police officer finds a false document, the consequences can be much worse for the student.
- Theft: College campuses are rife with theft. Students have many devices such as laptops, televisions, video games, phones, tablets and more and often fall victim to theft. When a student is accused of theft, not only will they face criminal charges, but the college may use this as grounds to ban the student from housing, and maybe even the university as a whole.
- Property Crime: One of the most common crimes that occurs on a college campus is vandalism. Students charged with vandalism may not immediately face criminal charges, however, the authorities of the college may choose to take administrative action, which can result in loss of housing or other consequences to the student.
- Violent Crime: Crimes of violence are particularly threatening to a student's academic career. Instances involving fighting or assault are met swiftly and harshly by both local police as well as the college. Not only will criminal charges be involved, but a student may also face expulsion or suspension from their college.
- Sex Crimes: Sex crimes, including sexual assault and rape, are taken seriously by both law enforcement and college authorities. A majority of colleges have specific Title IX policies that set forth harsh consequences for violations.
- Harassment: Harassment can come in many forms. Cyber stalking, stalking, sexual harassment, and other forms can be common on the college campus. Some of these instances may qualify for action under a college's Title IX policy.
- Weapons Possession: Most college campuses forbid their students from carrying weapons or firearms on campus, and in many jurisdictions, doing so may also be a crime. Students can face charges for this, as well as actions from their university.
Chester County Criminal Charges and How Your College or University Will Respond
Criminal charges against Chester County college students will often result in disciplinary proceedings at the school level. The following links provide specific information as to the respective Chester 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:
- Cheyney University Disciplinary Charge
- Immaculata University Disciplinary Charge
- Lincoln University Disciplinary Charge
- West Chester University Disciplinary Charge
- Widener University Disciplinary Charge
The following links provide information regarding how individual Chester County colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and Title IX sexual misconduct against students:
- Cheyney University Sexual Assault Charge
- Immaculata University Sexual Assault Charge
- Lincoln University Sexual Assault Charge
- West Chester University Sexual Assault Charge
- Widener University Sexual Assault Charge
Chester County Student Defense Attorney
An attorney acting as a student's counsel through both criminal and disciplinary proceedings can be incredibly helpful in these situations. If you or your student is facing criminal charges, or disciplinary actions at a college, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.