Lancaster County is one of Pennsylvania's most populous counties. It is well known for its tourist destinations and large Amish community. Lancaster County has 5 four year collegiate schools, and several other seminary, specialty, trade, and community schools as well. While sending a student off to college offers a great experience and learning opportunity to a student, time spent on their own can expose them to situations where they may encounter opportunities to make poor decisions. This can come in the form of underage drinking, or other acts. This can lead to a student getting into troublesome situations with both their college and the law.
Student Defense in Lancaster County
Students who find themselves involved in troublesome situations will often end up fighting a battle on two fronts. They may face criminal charges from the state, and may also face administrative actions from their college. In addition, many colleges will work with local police to share evidence and other information, which gives both of these agencies an edge against a student. Even if criminal charges are withdrawn or dismissed, a student will still likely face actions from their college, as they are a separate authority from the state. An attorney can provide assistance to students in these situations, in both scenarios.
Common Criminal Charges Faced by Students in Lancaster County
- Underage Drinking: One of the most common situations a student will be exposed to in college is one where underage individuals are in possession of or are consuming alcohol. While criminal charges rarely stem from the act of drinking by itself, alcohol can hinder a person's judgement, and may lead to other actions that can contribute to adverse consequences with the law. In addition, a student may face consequences from their university as well, such as loss of housing privileges.
- Fake I.D.'s: One commonly seen false document on college campuses is a fake I.D. These are often used to purchase alcohol or enter bars before a person comes of age to legally do so. Normally when a student's fake I.D. is found out by a bar or liquor store, the I.D. is simply disposed of. In some cases, however, the student may face legal consequences or administrative consequences from their university.
- Drug Crimes: Drug possession and use, even for marijuana, can have disastrous consequences for a student. Many times a student will face ramifications from both their college as well as the local authorities. In addition to criminal charges, the student may face the loss of housing privileges at their university.
- Violent Crimes: Actions such as fighting, assault, domestic violence, and other violent acts are taken very seriously by both the law and a student's college. These actions can result in serious criminal charges, and may even result in a student's expulsion or suspension from their college as well.
- Theft: College campuses are often the victim of several incidents of theft. Thieving hands are often attracted by the mass of laptops, tablets, televisions, phones, and other devices many students have in their dorms. When a student is accused of theft, the accusations may not always hold true, however, the consequences can be very serious.
- Sex Crimes: Sex crimes, such as sexual assault or rape, are treated very seriously by both the state and the college. Many colleges hold a Title IX policy, which is used specifically for instances of potential sexual misconduct allegations. Violations of a college's Title IX policy are treated harshly and swiftly and can result in expulsion. In addition, a student may also be the subject of a criminal investigation at the same time.
- Harassment: Harassment can come in many forms on a college campus. Things like online harassment, stalking, or sexual harassment may warrant University action, and sometimes legal action. Depending on the situation, a student may find themselves with Title IX violation accusations as well.
- Property Crimes: Crimes involving vandalism or damage to school property can often run hand in hand with underage drinking. Sometimes these situations are serious enough to constitute criminal charges, other times, the school will take action against the student.
- Weapons Crimes: In many jurisdictions, it is against the law to bring a firearm or other deadly weapon onto a college campus. Doing so is also likely to be in violation of a campus's policy as well. A student accused of bringing a weapon onto a college campus may face criminal charges, as well as administrative actions against them from their college.
- Hazing: Fraternity and sorority organizations often bar entry into their ranks with a difficult or exhausting entry ritual. While this is common across the nation, sometimes, these entry requirements can be construed as hazing. Although it is rare for hazing accusations to result in criminal charges, the college or university treats these accusations very seriously and will take specific actions against these organizations. This can include disbanding the organizations and coming after the associated students individually as well.
Lancaster County Criminal Charges and How Your College or University Will Respond
Criminal charges against Lancaster County college students will often result in disciplinary proceedings at the school level. The following links provide specific information as to the respective Lancaster 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:
- Elizabethtown University Disciplinary Charge
- Franklin & Marshall College Disciplinary Charge
- Millersville University of Pennsylvania Disciplinary Charge
- Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Disciplinary Charge
The following links provide information regarding how individual Lancaster County colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and Title IX sexual misconduct against students:
- Elizabethtown University Sexual Assault Charge
- Millersville University of Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Charge
- Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Sexual Assault 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 Lancaster 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.
Student Defense Attorney in Lancaster County
While an attorney can certainly improve a student's odds in any legal situation, an attorney can also help with any adverse consequences that accompany criminal charges at the college level. If you or your student is facing criminal charges in Lancaster County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.