A Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Student Arrests And The Resulting Effects On A Student’s Future (Part Two)

As promised, our weekly “Attorney Sam’s Take” discussion completes our examination of how involvement in the criminal justice system effects students.

We have discussed how, beyond the obvious, the arrest of a juvenile student in Massachusetts can seriously effect that student’s future plans. We have also mentioned how the earliest consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is vital in order to best attempt to prevent, or at least minimize, damage.

Of course, not all students are juveniles. Some are already adults. There are a few big differences. Remember how I wrote about the Juvenile System’s concerns being primarily rehabilitative? Well, such is not the case with adults. Further, while a juvenile’s prior record is often disregarded…no such luck for the adult.

The result of these differences?

Harsher realities.

Let’s take an example.

Last Thursday, 18-year-old Kyle R. (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) had a bit of trouble with the Taunton police. It seems he is being accused of driving drunk (aka OUI). Well, maybe a little more. He also faces charges of driving so as to endanger, carrying a dangerous weapon, (a spring-loaded folding knife) and violating the terms of a juvenile operator’s driving license.

“What brought the lad to the attention of the law?”, you ask.

Well, the police say it was his driving his car into a speed limit sign and a fire hydrant just after 1:00 a.m.

Now, we know that The Defendant, now an adult in terms of being prosecuted, is in trouble…as any person so charged would be.

But, let’s move him from Taunton and place him right in one of the many educational institutions in the Boston area. Of course, where we put his automobile accident will effect things right off.

If the accident took place on campus, the results to his status on campus would absolutely be effected. There would be some kind of hearing at the school and, very likely, he would be told he could not be on campus anymore because of the threat he presents to the school community. You see, schools tend to take things like drunk driving, illegal driving and the carrying of weapons quite seriously…especially when these things are done on the actual campus.

In other words, suspension or even expulsion could be the result even long before the criminal justice system has determined guilt or innocence. This is because, in the school setting, the accused does not possess as many rights as he does in the criminal justice system. Sometimes, the school will wait to see what the courts do. Often, they do not. In cases where a school does wait, then the determination in court will almost dictate what the school will do.

Keep in mind that, like other such entities, schools do not like to get sued. Therefore, the omnipresent concern we often hear from law enforcement, “What if he goes out and kills somebody?”, is also alive and well in the school administration.

But, there is more to be worried about if you are the Defendant and a student, isn’t there?

The Defendant is an adult now. It will be harder to seal this record and, as you know if you are a regular reader to this daily blog, expunging the record is simply not going to happen. If convicted, the Defendant will have to wait years before being able to even try to seal his record. Yes, many more years than he has before applying to graduate schools and/or his first employment.

In fact, any future plans he has will now have to be adjusted for the fact that he has the criminal conviction(s). This will include continuing his education, military service and most places of employment. It will also have to be dealt with, should he get past the continuing education issue, when facing any licensing boards that might be necessary in a chosen profession, such as law, medicine, accounting and the like, not to mention any job that requires a security clearance.

Again, if the Defendant were a juvenile, this record would not come up so easily and would not have to be addressed in all applications because of protections we give to juveniles. Part of that protection is that, except in certain circumstances (such as homicides), the finding against a juvenile is “delinquency”, not “guilty”. That will change the answer to questions like “have you ever been convicted of a crime.”

Many of the same concerns that we examined in Part One of this Attorney Sam’s Take discussion involving juveniles are even greater in terms of a student who is not a juvenile.

For example, let’s take the example of a student who is convicted of a sex offense. While even a juvenile may be forced to register with the Sex Offender Registry, such registration is not always the result. However, for an adult convicted of a sex crime, registration is an absolute reality, the only question being what level.

Other ramifications are greater for the adult student than for the juvenile. For example, guilty findings for adults also effect actions by other agencies from national agencies controlling immigration to more local agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. Clearly, in this matter, should convictions result, there will be a loss of license for a certain time.

There is one final difference between the effect on an adult student as opposed to that of a juvenile student that I need to address. Namely, jurisdiction of the legal body which oversees the Defendant.

For example, the worst the Justice System is likely to find against the juvenile is a finding of “Delinquency”, as noted above, and any resulting probationary or Department of Youth Services oversight of the Defendant ends when he is no longer a juvenile.

This is not the case with the adult. The adult’s probation will extend for as long as the court says it will extend. While a juvenile must be released from DYS custody upon becoming an adult, the sentenced adult will have to serve whatever term the court has imposed.

Therefore, the more direct gifts of conviction are longer lasting and can be more pervasive for the adult. For example, the juvenile offender who attains adulthood no longer has to consult a probation officer before applying to and attending schools (whether in or out of state). Not so with the adult offender.

In any event, the fact that a defendant is a student is not often a huge help in facing criminal justice anymore. While court’s like to see a defendant with a future (who will hopefully not become a repeat offender), the addage of “Boys will be boys” is not longer an active principle in the criminal justice system.

Of course, every case is different to some degree, and it is impossible to render an exhaustive treatise on the subject in this short blog. The advice, however, remains the same.

If you or a loved one find themselves in the wrong end of the government’s finger of blame, it is vital that you consult an experienced defense attorney to advise as to options from the onset. That way, as you are driven through the myriad of corridors of the criminal justice maze, you can best make informed decisions, be defendant and actually have a road map.

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