College is a time of experimentation and personal growth, but some of the things that college students do to explore their newfound adulthood might lead to legal troubles. Drinking and driving, drinking before they are old enough or trying drugs are all examples of common college student crimes.
Anyone accused of a criminal offense will face certain penalties depending on the charges. Incarceration, fines, community service and the loss of driving privileges are all common penalties for a criminal conviction.
However, college students often face additional consequences if they plead guilty or get convicted of an offense while enrolled in school. Those additional penalties can be a strong incentive to defend against what might otherwise seem like a youthful offense.
Criminal penalties may conflict with their school schedule
Whether the consequences involve incarceration, community service, probation or mandatory educational programs, a college student coping with the fallout of a recent criminal conviction could find that their penalties affect their academic schedule.
Students may have to withdraw from enrollment for a semester or longer to avoid missed classes and tests, destroying their grade point average. Some may never go back at all.
A criminal record may limit financial aid options
Although the rules have become more lenient, there’s still reason to worry that a conviction will impact financial aid like scholarships and grants. School-based scholarships often depend on involvement in honor societies or programs, and a criminal conviction could affect a student’s eligibility. Private scholarships often come with restrictions, including rules against criminal convictions. Certain offenses can even affect eligibility for federal student aid.
Criminal convictions can affect enrollment
Many colleges have codes of conduct for their students. Many schools reserve the right to rescind a student’s enrollments over criminal activity. Thankfully, a student will typically have the opportunity to defend themselves against this kind a punishment at a private hearing. Still. a conviction on their record may make it harder for them to avoid academic consequences.
Realizing that college students don’t necessarily receive more lenient treatment and many, instead, face more serious consequences when accused of a criminal offense might help you be more realistic in your response to an offense while enrolled in college.