Robert S. Muir, Attorney at Law
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How might a criminal case affect my studies?

This blog has on previous occasions mentioned that a college student who gets in trouble for a crime may also have his or her educational goals affected. This is true even if the student is a first-time offender and manages to avoid jail.

The reason is that many common campus crimes are also violations of the rules of local and nearby colleges, including Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The principle of double jeopardy does not apply to punishments imposed by colleges. A violation of the rules can carry with it additional penalties beyond whatever a student receives in his or her criminal case. These penalties can be severe and include suspension or even expulsion from the University or eviction from the University's housing.

For instance, even a first violation of the University's rules prohibiting most alcohol use, including underage drinking, can leave a student on the University's disciplinary probation program. The program includes mandatory alcohol education and, in certain situations, ongoing treatment. A subsequent violation could mean expulsion from student housing.

The penalties for drug use or trafficking, or even hosting a party that caters to underage drinkers, are more severe and can include an immediate suspension from the University. Students who commit other campus crimes, like theft or assault, can also face serious academic consequences.

Granted, defending against a criminal charge in the local courts will not automatically save a student from the University's disciplinary process. However, simply pleading guilty in a criminal case may make it practically inevitable that a student will also have his or her educational goals derailed or hindered. The possibility of discipline at the University level is one more reason why students accused of crimes should discuss their options before making any decisions.

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