Philadelphia is home to 19 four-year colleges and universities within the bounds of the city and several other educational institutions. While college is a learning time for students, for many students, it is also their first time on their own. At times, students may find themselves in trouble with both the University and the law. These matters are often complex, and students may not know where to turn. Their future career and educational goals are at high risk when they are charged with a crime.
Student Defense in Philadelphia
Many times, when a student faces a criminal charge, they must defend themselves on two fronts: criminal charges from the state, and administrative action from their college or university. "Not guilty" on the criminal front may not always mean "not in violation" in the university's eyes. Many times, academic authorities will report a student to police as well, resulting in criminal charges. An attorney that understands the needs of the student on both levels can be incredibly helpful in these situations.
Criminal Charges Commonly Pressed Against Students in Philadelphia
Students can face several different types of criminal charges. Many of these charges are common to students. Beyond the realm of criminal law, they may also face administrative actions from their college or university. Some common crimes that students may face charges for include:
- Drug Crimes: Possession and use of drugs can get a person into trouble both on and off campus. Many colleges and universities have explicit drug crime policies as part of their agreement to live and study on campus. In addition, possessing drugs is a violation of state law in Pennsylvania, which can lead to criminal consequences beyond the extent of the university or college's policy.
- Violent Crimes: Fighting, assault, and other violent acts are often grounds for the college or university to begin proceedings to ban a student from campus, and possibly the educational institution as a whole. In addition, any officers that encounter the incident may also charge the students involved with assault, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, or similar crimes.
- Underage Drinking: One of the most common scenarios students find themselves in when in college is a situation involving underage drinking. Regardless of how a student ends up in these incidents, the college or university administration may take action against the student, which may result in loss of housing, or worse. In addition, campus police may cite the student with violations, or criminal charges, depending on the situation and the officer's perception of what is occurring.
- Hazing: It is no secret that entering into a fraternity or sorority is often guarded by demanding that prospective members engage in challenging or sometimes risky behavior. At times, this may be considered "hazing," which can put the student organization, and any students involved in these events at risk of losing their educational opportunity, and may even result in the dissolution of the organization itself.
- Fake I.D. Possession: On college campuses, many students under the age of 21 will attempt to gain entry into Philadelphia's many bars or liquor stores with a fake I.D. Possession of a fake I.D. is sometimes enough to warrant criminal charges, especially if presented to a police officer in lieu of a real identifying document.
- Sex Crimes: Crimes involving sexual offenses such as rape, sexual assault, and the like are met harshly from two fronts: the state and the university. A majority of colleges and universities nationwide are subject to Title IX laws, meaning they must carry a separate policy that enforces sexual misconduct violation procedures specifically. Consequences of these violations nearly always result in expulsion or suspension for the student; and the criminal consequences are much worse.
- Forms of Harassment: Harassment can come in many different forms. Some common forms of harassment include stalking, cyber-stalking, hazing, threats, sexual harassment, and the like. These incidents are taken very seriously by any college authority, and at times may constitute Title IX violations as well. While not all of these actions may constitute criminal charges, should criminal charges arise, the consequences can be dire.
- Weapons Possession: In most jurisdictions, possessing a weapon or firearm on the grounds of any educational institution is illegal. If it is not illegal per state law, it may be a violation of the policies of the institution itself. Possessing a weapon can get a student suspended or kicked out of their educational program, and may even result in criminal charges.
- Property and Theft Crimes: Theft and vandalism are common categories of crime on college campuses. Students often have many expensive electronic devices such as phones and laptops and may fall victim to theft. In addition, the "party" environment of Greek life can often lead to damage to property or instances of public urination charges. When a student faces criminal charges of these natures, the matters can be complex, and the university may simply wish to be rid of the student.
A majority of colleges in Philadelphia will bring administrative action against students if they find out the student is the subject of any criminal charges. This can lead to the loss of a student's educational opportunity, and in turn, potential loss of any career goals a student may have in mind.
Philadelphia Criminal Charges and How Your College or University Will Respond
Criminal charges against Philadelphia college students will often result in disciplinary proceedings at the school level. The following links provide specific information as to the respective Philadelphia 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:
- Chestnut Hill College Disciplinary Charge
- Drexel University Disciplinary Charge
- Holy Family University Disciplinary Charge
- La Salle University Disciplinary Charge
- Peirce College Disciplinary Charge
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) Disciplinary Charge
- Saint Joseph's University (St. Joe's) Disciplinary Charge
- Temple University Disciplinary Charge
- Thomas Jefferson University Disciplinary Charge
- University of Pennsylvania (Penn) Disciplinary Charge
- University of The Arts Disciplinary Charge
- University of the Sciences Disciplinary Charge
The following links provides information regarding how individual Philadelphia colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault and Title IX sexual misconduct against students:
- CHESTNUT HILL COLLEGE
- DREXEL UNIVERSITY
- HOLY FAMILY UNIVERSITY
- LA SALLE UNIVERSITY
- PEIRCE COLLEGE
- PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE (PCOM)
- ST. JOSEPH'S UNIVERSITY (ST. JOE'S)
- TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
- THOMAS JEFFERSON UNIVERSITY
- UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA (PENN)
- UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
- UNIVERSITY OF THE SCIENCES
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 Philadelphia 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.
A Philadelphia Defense Attorney At Your Side
In and out of the courtroom, a defense attorney can make a strong difference in the potential fallout of any incident a student is involved in. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney, who handles cases both on the criminal front, and at the administrative level with educational institutions. If you, or your student, is facing criminal charges, contact us today.