Going to college is an important and exciting time in any student’s life; however, it is all too easy for students in Texas to find themselves on the wrong side of the law, needing to find a criminal defense lawyer. Students can face criminal charges that affect their lives for many years. Before breaking the law and needing the assistance of a criminal defense attorney, students and their parents should be aware of the common issues that create problems for college students and how to avoid them.
Marijuana and Alcohol
Possession of marijuana is the most common offense that causes college students in Texas to seek legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney. It is essential for students to understand that in the state of Texas, possession or use of any amount of marijuana is illegal and can result in stiff penalties. Charges range from a Class C Misdemeanor for simple possession or use, up to a much more serious Felony charge if found with more than 4 ounces of marijuana. A student selling pot to other students could face even worse charges.
Similarly, while many college students are of legal drinking age, many are not. Providing alcohol to underage students can create serious problems for an adult student hosting a party or allowing an underage student to drink. This is especially true if the underage student drives and causes an accident or is arrested for DWI/DUI. The adult student may be charged and have to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Shoplifting and Theft
Theft in the form of shoplifting is the second most common reason why a college student faces a criminal charge and needs help from a criminal defense lawyer. In reality, a theft conviction can sometimes be worse than others as it is considered a “crime of moral turpitude” and reflects on a student’s moral character. Theft charges may even affect student loans and scholarships, campus and other housing, and the ability to find employment.
Texas has a low tolerance for bodily injury to another person, resulting in assault charges. This is another more common criminal charge faced by a college student, yet another reason a student may need the help of a well-versed criminal defense attorney. By making bodily contact with someone else, that person may file assault charges, which is at least a Class C Misdemeanor. If that person is injured and/or a weapon was used, the charges can be as much as a First Degree Felony.
Texas DWI/DUI laws are strict, as are the ways to prove intoxication, as explained by an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are many ways that someone who has consumed alcohol can be considered intoxicated, especially if driving. The consumption of alcohol is often viewed by college students as a rite of passage; however, underage drinking is harshly punished, especially where prohibited such as at most college campuses or while driving. DWI/DUI can severely affect a student’s future, even if nothing adverse happened.
Trespassing in a non-permitted area is yet another charge for which a student could need the help of a criminal defense lawyer. This happens frequently on college campuses, when students are challenged by other students to enter restricted areas and then face charges of criminal trespassing. It is a common charge faced by college students after exploring abandoned buildings, breaking into locked or restricted campus areas, or returning to areas after having been previously warned not to enter.
Students attending college in Texas want to experience fun along with their education; however, fun activities must be carried out responsibly. The above activities are common ones that cause problems for college students, leaving them needing the assistance of a criminal defense attorney to help avoid charges and the stiff consequences of such actions. The best way to enjoy college, without running into trouble that requires hiring a criminal defense lawyer, is to know the law and don’t break it!
Reynoldo G. (Trey) Garza, III
680 East St. Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520