The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is home to more than one hundred institutions of higher education, ranging from special focus institutions and community colleges to doctoral and research universities. Accordingly, Massachusetts is home to approximately 400,000 college students. The criminal defense practice group at Parker|Scheer devotes a large percentage of the practice to effectively representing college students, and is well versed in resolving the unique issues that arise with these types of cases. If you, or someone you know, is a college student and charged with a criminal offense, it is imperative to be represented by a criminal defense attorney that is experienced and has a track record of success of obtaining the best possible result for their clients.
Unique Concerns Arising from Criminal Cases Involving College Students:
An experienced Massachusetts College Student Criminal Defense Lawyer must take into account a number of issues that commonly arise that are generally unique to criminal charges that the individual’s college is aware of. For example, when a college student is charged criminally, in addition to the potential penalties provided by the Massachusetts General Laws, they usually face potential university disciplinary action. Massachusetts College Student Criminal Defense Lawyer Francis T. O’Brien has proven to consistently resolve matters before university disciplinary boards in the best interests of each individual client. When representing Massachusetts College Students, the common goal of the criminal defense practice group at Parker|Scheer is preventing any collateral consequences associated with the criminal case.
I. Ineligible for Federally Subsidized Student Loans and/or Financial Aid
For example, a college student that is found guilty for certain crimes involving drug possession and/or distribution can be precluded from obtaining federally subsidized student loans. This immense cost of higher education is no secret, and an individual’s access to student loans will commonly be the deciding factor as to whether they can afford to attend the school of their choice.
In addition to possible exclusion from federal programs, college students facing criminal charges also face possible exclusion from financial aid. 20 U.S.C. § 1091(r)(1) provides that any student who is convicted of a drug-related charge while enrolled in a higher education program and receiving federal financial aid faces delay or discontinuation of his or her financial aid. This restriction applies equally to misdemeanor or felony drug related convictions, and provides for escalating consequences depending on the number and type of convictions.
II. Immigration Consequences
Foreign college students that are studying in Massachusetts pursuant to temporary student visas have a substantial interest in resolving any criminal offense favorably because a guilty finding is often grounds for revocation of the student visa, and can cause deportation. 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B) provides for deportation upon entry of a conviction of a controlled substance violation. Simple drug possession can be a deportable offense. Accordingly, it is extremely important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to prevent a conviction from being entered and avoid the immigration consequences associated there from.
III. Employment Ramifications
A criminal record, including convictions for any offenses, can have a detrimental impact on a college student’s ability to find employment during school, and after graduation. For example, many universities and colleges in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts offer work study and other work placement programs so college students have the opportunity to attain some practical experience in the particular field that they intend to enter post graduation. A criminal record may be the difference between finding a job, or not. A criminal record is permanent, and the consequences that are potentially derived there from can haunt a college graduate every time that they apply for a job, for the rest of their life.
IV. Suspension of Driver’s License
Many college students depend on driving themselves to and from school. Massachusetts General Laws c. 90, § 22(f) provides that a conviction for a drug offense will result in revocation or suspension of one’s license or right to operate a motor vehicle for up to five years. The Registry of Motor Vehicles has no discretion under this statue, and a college student who is convicted of a drug offense is not entitled to a hearing prior to the license suspension. Additionally, there is no requirement that the offense for which the college student is convicted be connected to their motor vehicle in any way.
Additional Disciplinary Action by University Board
Notwithstanding the sanctions imposed by Massachusetts courts, college students that are charged with criminal offenses often face additional disciplinary action by the university or college board presiding at their respective school. For example, college students facing criminal charges face potential suspension and/or expulsion from their respective school. The criminal defense practice group at Parker|Scheer specializes in working with university and college disciplinary boards in order to eliminate or minimize the possibility of independent sanctions issued though the school.
Some Common Criminal Charges that Massachusetts College Students Face:
- Drug Offenses –
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
- Possession with the Intent to Distribute
- Motor Vehicle Offense –
- Negligent Operation
- Operation of a Motor Vehicle After License Suspended
- OUI/DWI/Drunk Driving –
- Operation of a Motor Vehicle while Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor or Drugs
- Possession of Alcohol by a person Under 21 years old
- Sex Crimes –
- Indecent Assault and Battery with the Intent to Rape
- Date Rape
- Violent Crimes
- Assault and Battery
- Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon
- Miscellaneous Crimes
- Malicious Destruction of Property
- Disorderly Conduct
- Resisting Arrest
- Furnishing a person under 21 with Alcohol
- Possession of a False Identification