Pennsylvania Criminal Charges and Students

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While college represents many firsts for many students, some of these first-time experiences yield negative consequences, such as being the first time that some students have been away from their parents for any meaningful period of time. This new liberty and lack of supervision sometimes results in destructive behavior that has the potential to land the student in legal troubles.

Bad decision-making may result in students acquiring a criminal record, which has the potential to follow the student around for the rest of his or her life. Some crimes have a direct impact on the studentís ability to legally drive. Additionally, the studentís plans regarding education and employment may be permanently affected. Students may even lose their existing financial aid.

Potential Crimes

Many of the crimes that students may get in trouble for revolve around partying. Students who want to drink before they are old enough may use fake identification. Older students may illegally purchase alcohol for underage students. Students may also get arrested for using marijuana or possessing it. Motor vehicle related charges may also stem from drinking or using drugs.

Potential Criminal Penalties

Pennsylvania students face very serious criminal penalties for being convicted of any of the crimes identified above. If a student uses a fake id, he or she may receive a fine if it is the first offense. However, if the student commits the same crime, he or she can face up to 90 days in jail, lose driving privileges for up to two years and have his or her parents notified if he or she was drinking under age.

If the student is convicted for drinking while underage, he or she may face up to a $300 fine for the first offense or $500 for the subsequent offense. The same penalties regarding the loss of driving privileges and potential jail time may also be imposed.
For marijuana possession, the potential penalty is based on the amount of the drug at issue. For amounts of 30 grams or less, the student can face up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500. If the amount is greater than 30 grams, the maximum punishment is up to one year in jail and a maximum $5,000 fine. Additionally, the student can lose his or her driving privileges for up to six months for a first offense or two years for a third or subsequent offense. Possession of drug paraphernalia can result in a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Academic Consequences

In addition to the criminal consequences, the student may also face academic consequences. Students are usually bound by an honor code and may face suspension or expulsion if their conduct is in violation of it. Additionally, the Higher Education Act of 1998 also explains that a student may lose his or eligibility to receive money from federal funds. If a student is convicted of a crime relating to the possession or sale of a controlled substance, he or she will not be eligible to receive any federal grant, loan or work assistance for a specified period of time based on the charge and nature of the offense. If a student is convicted of drug possession, he or she cannot receive federal aid for a year after the conviction. If the conviction is his or her second offense, the ineligibility period is for two years. If the student is facing a third or subsequent offense, he or she is ineligible for federal aid for an indefinite period of time.

For the sale of a controlled substance, a first offense results in financial aid ineligibility for two years and an indefinite period of time for a second or subsequent offense.

Legal Counsel

An individual should seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney if he or she is charged with these types of crimes. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help the defendant secure a favorable plea bargain in which he or she commits to a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program instead of a jail sentence or reduce the jail sentence. He or she can also see if there were any procedural mistakes that were made that violated the defendantís rights that provide grounds to challenge the arrest or get the case dismissed.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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