Campus Alcohol and Underage Drinking
Students attending one of Pennsylvania's many fine colleges or universities can certainly expect a generally good life. College or university attendance can be some of the best years of a person's life, focusing as an adult on educational attainment and personal development. But not everything comes up roses for some college or university students, especially when a student takes the good life a bit too far. Colleges and universities can have strict policies regarding alcohol possession and consumption on campus, whether by an adult or minor students. A student running afoul of those campus policies can face disciplinary charges, risking suspension or expulsion from school. And college and university towns have state laws and local ordinances on things like public drunkenness, open intoxicants, drunk driving, underage drinking, and furnishing alcohol to minors. When a student runs afoul of those state and local laws, the student can face criminal charges risking fines and even jail time. If you are a Pennsylvania college or university student facing school discipline or criminal charges alleging alcohol or underage drinking crime, retain premier Pennsylvania student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team. Get the help you need to preserve your education, record, and reputation.
Crime Detection on Pennsylvania Campuses
Alcohol and underage drinking happens on and off college and university campuses in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. But your risk of detection for an alcohol or underage drinking crime can be significantly greater when you matriculate at a Pennsylvania college or university than elsewhere. College and university campuses are one of the most highly regulated environments you may ever enter, and not just because both public law and campus policies regulate student conduct there. Pennsylvania law authorizes college and university police forces, like the ones at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Penn State University, to enforce public laws. Those campus police forces will also enforce the institution's policies, including those on alcohol and underage drinking. Schools can take very seriously their obligation to protect students, not just against violent crimes but also against crimes involving student health, safety, and welfare. Alcohol-related crimes and disciplinary charges are among the most common of all charges against Pennsylvania college and university students. You are not alone if you face those charges. You just need to retain the right legal representation, an attorney skilled and experienced in both student discipline defense and criminal defense, for the best outcome. Hire Pennsylvania student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento now.
Pennsylvania Alcohol and Underage Drinking Crimes
Just because you are a Pennsylvania college or university student on campus doesn't mean that you are immune from Pennsylvania alcohol and underage drinking laws. To the contrary, your college or university's police force, or the local or state police, may enforce public criminal laws on your campus. Local prosecutors charge lots and lots of college and university students in the local criminal courts with various crimes. The following alcohol-related crimes are primary among them.
Underage Drinking Crimes on Pennsylvania College Campuses
Pennsylvania Criminal Code Section 6308 provides that you must be twenty-one years old to purchase, consume, possess, or transport alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania. If you were instead an underage minor when arrested with alcohol, you may face what local prosecutors call “minor in possession” or MIP charges. Some students may feel that an MIP charge is a minor annoyance, in Pennsylvania carrying only up to a $500 fine for a first offense and a $1,000 fine for a second offense. But the stakes are higher than just the fine. Criminal records involving alcohol abuse can carry all sorts of collateral consequences, even beyond the discipline your school may impose, up to suspension or expulsion. Pennsylvania MIP charges can also require parent notification. You likely won't just be able to quietly pay the fine. If you are an adult, age 21 or older, you may still face charges under Pennsylvania Criminal Code Section 6310 if you induce a minor to purchase alcohol.
Other Drinking Crimes on Pennsylvania College Campuses
Drinking alcohol, whether underage or by an adult student, can be an ingredient for other campus crimes. Pennsylvania Criminal Code Section 5505 authorizes charges for public intoxication whenever the conduct endangers or annoys others. Pennsylvania Criminal Code Section 5503 similarly authorizes charges for disorderly conduct. Under the statute, disorderly conduct can include anything intentional, from causing “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” to fighting, tumultuous behavior, noise, obscene language, or gestures. Public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges may accompany an underage-drinking charge or stand alone when the student is an adult and thus able to drink legally.
False Identification Crimes on Pennsylvania College Campuses
Every underage college or university student interested in drinking alcohol knows the need to present adult identification proving the lawful age to purchase and consume alcohol. Not every student knows that Pennsylvania makes presenting false identification a crime. Pennsylvania Criminal Code Section 6310.3 authorizes charges against a student under age 21 for carrying a false identification card suggesting the student is age 21 or older. Section 6310.3 further authorizes charges against a minor student who uses the identification of another person who is 21 or older to attempt to obtain alcohol. Section 6307 adds a third-degree misdemeanor offense to the false-ID charges if the minor student also says the student is 21 or older to obtain alcohol.
Defending Pennsylvania Student Drinking Crime Charges
Just because campus or local police apprehended you when drinking, drunk, or disorderly, and the local prosecutor charged you with one or more of the above campus drinking or drinking-related crimes, does not mean that you must suffer the criminal conviction, pay the fine, and do the time. Pennsylvania follows criminal procedures like those in other jurisdictions, intended to give your retained defense attorney the opportunity to defend and defeat the charges. A skilled and experienced student defense attorney can invoke those procedures for your best outcome. Here are some of the strategic options that student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento may recommend and pursue for you, depending on the facts and circumstances of your charges in Pennsylvania's criminal court:
- Ensuring that your arraignment results in your prompt release without restrictive bond terms and that you have the full ability to continue your schooling while assisting your retained attorney in your criminal defense
- Invoking preliminary examination procedures to expose gaps in the prosecution's case, including things like misidentification and the failure to document observations accurately and preserve evidence
- Invoking discovery rights to obtain exonerating and mitigating evidence from the police and prosecution and presenting that evidence in pretrial conferences to advocate for charge dismissal
- Invoking Pennsylvania's accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program removing the charges from criminal court so that you avoid prosecution and conviction
- Filing pretrial motions asserting police violation of your constitutional rights and privileges, suppressing evidence, and leading to the dismissal of all charges
- Relying on the prosecution's highest burden to prove all elements of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, to advocate and negotiate for the prosecutor's voluntary dismissal of uncertain charges
- Trial advocacy, including an opening statement, cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, presentation and direct examination of defense witnesses, and closing argument
- Post-trial motions and appeals for relief from any adverse findings and results based on misconduct of the prosecution or witnesses and errors by the court
Pennsylvania student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented hundreds of students nationwide against all kinds of charges, including alcohol-related charges. Trust attorney Lento to strategically deploy these criminal procedures for your best outcome to the criminal charges.
Pennsylvania College and University Alcohol Policies
No matter what the state laws or local town ordinances may provide for alcohol-related criminal charges, Pennsylvania colleges and universities adopt and enforce their own student codes of conduct. Those codes routinely regulate and, in many cases, bar or limit student possession and consumption of alcohol on campus. The University of Pennsylvania's Alcohol and Other Drug Policy, for example, prohibits each of the following behaviors:
- Any student under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages on property the university owns or controls or at any university event off campus
- Furnishing alcoholic beverages to students or others under the age of 21
- Furnishing alcoholic beverages to students or others who are already inebriated, on property the university owns or controls or at any university event off campus
- Consuming alcoholic beverages in any way that adversely affects academic or job performance or endangers the physical well-being of others or oneself, or leads to property damage
- Possessing, selling, distributing, or consuming alcoholic beverages in violation of federal, state, or local law, on property the university owns or controls or at any off-campus university event
Penn State University maintains a similar student code of conduct relating to student alcohol possession or consumption. Penn State warns students not to carry open alcohol containers, not to draw attention to themselves, such as by being loud or urinating outside, not to be visibly drunk in any public place on or off campus regardless of age, and not to drink under any circumstance if under the age of 21. Penn State further warns that it imposes at least a conduct warning, conduct probation, a $250 accountability course, and parental notification for as little as a first disciplinary offense. More serious penalties up to suspension or expulsion can follow more serious charges involving disorderly and disruptive conduct, fights or threats, injuries, property damage, or other disruption of the university environment. Some Pennsylvania college and university campuses, like Penn State Altoona, are entirely dry campuses, meaning any student of any age possessing any alcohol under any circumstance may face disciplinary charges.
Pennsylvania Campus Drinking Disciplinary Procedures
No matter whether the local prosecutor charges you with an alcohol-related crime or not, your Pennsylvania college or university campus may initiate on-campus disciplinary proceedings for violating the school's policies on alcohol. If you simultaneously face criminal charges, your school may hold off on the disciplinary proceedings until those charges resolve. But the disciplinary proceeding does not depend on a criminal charge or conviction. The school may instead do as it sees fit within the confines of its school disciplinary procedures. Don't underestimate the impact of school discipline. It can include suspension and expulsion. But even if it does not, any discipline can mark your academic record in a way that interferes with your present and future education. You can lose references, recommendation letters, internships, graduate admission, and other prime opportunities simply because of an alcohol-related reprimand or other discipline. Retain student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to strategically invoke the following school procedures, like those in the University of Pittsburgh's Student Code of Conduct, for your best outcome to school charges:
- Review and evaluation of, and timely answer or other response to, the school's detailed notice of charges
- Invoking the school's investigation and disclosure procedures so that you and your retained attorney receive all school evidence, including exonerating and mitigating evidence
- Requesting and attending informal resolution conferences with the disciplinary official or investigator to provide assurances and advocate for early voluntary dismissal of all charges
- Invoking formal hearing procedures for contested charges and attending the formal hearing to cross-examine adverse witnesses and present defense witnesses and evidence as permitted
- Timely invoking appeal rights for any adverse decisions based on bias, conflict of interest, or procedural errors in the proceeding, or a lack of credible evidence
- Requesting alternative special relief through school oversight channels, even if you have exhausted all formal procedures and still face discipline
Premier Pennsylvania Student Defense Attorney Available
Pennsylvania student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento combines criminal defense skills and experience with school discipline defense experience in hundreds of cases. It doesn't matter whether your campus drinking charge arose out of a fraternity or sorority event or other activity falling under your school's general student code of conduct. Attorney Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide on all kinds of misconduct charges, including alcohol and underage drinking charges. Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm team provide you with winning defense services in both the local criminal courts and your college or university's disciplinary proceedings. Retain a premier attorney having both the student discipline defense experience and criminal defense experience you need to save your Pennsylvania college or university education. Protect your education and future. Contact attorney Lento now at 888.535.3686 or go online for help.