College Students Under Criminal Investigation in MA – What Steps Should You Take?

College students who commit crimes can be prosecuted just like anyone else. In fact, they are often subject to additional penalties by athletic departments or college administrators.  As you know Massachusetts is loaded with a number of public and private colleges. Most schools have codes of conduct, especially in the case of student athletes. These codes of conduct include academic standards and how the school deals with inappropriate or criminal behavior, such as drug use or sexual assault. For example, the school may suspend a student athlete from participating in sports activities during an investigation into criminal charges. For particularly serious crimes, the school may suspend financial aid, or even permanently expel the student.

Most Common On-Campus Crimes

All types of crimes can, and have been, committed on college campuses, from DUI to assault and battery, to murder. But certain crimes are committed at a much higher rate than others. The most common on-campus crimes include:

  • In 2011, the most commonly reported crime on college campuses was burglary, with a total of 6,712 burglaries that year. The previous year had seen 7,241 burglaries.
  • The second most reported on-campus crime is motor vehicle theft, with more than 1,300 car thefts occurring annually.
  • The third most common on-campus crime is sexual assault, with 1,153 reported in 2011.

Student Courts

Serious offenses, such as those above, will require non-campus law enforcement. However, small offenses may be dealt with by on-campus student courts. Depending on the offense, the student may represent himself or herself in front of a student court. Less serious offenses include underage drinking, hazing crimes, petty theft, marijuana possession, harassment, and bullying. However, as with any type of crime, most on-campus crimes require the assistance of a skilled defense attorney.

An arrest by campus police can hold the same power as an arrest by state and local law enforcement. Many campus police are branches of local law enforcement and have the same powers to secure a warrant and make an arrest. Even if campus police have limited powers, criminal charges can be filed with local law enforcement following an arrest by campus police.

Do College Athletes Get Preferential Treatment?

In most cases, college students who commit crimes receive the same type of punishment as everyone else. However, a recent study revealed that student athletes are much less likely to be prosecuted than their non-athlete counterparts. The ESPN investigation, which studied 20 campuses between 2009 and 2014, found that football and basketball players at the University of Florida who were charged with criminal behavior, were not prosecuted or had the charges dropped more than half the time. In addition to possible preferential treatment, the report also cited other contributing factors, including access to high-profile attorneys and victim intimidation.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving All of MA

If you have been charged with any type of crime, the defense team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. If your child is being charged with a crime committed while away at college, it is crucial that you hire experienced representation as soon as possible. In addition to standard penalties for the crime in question, your child may also face other forms of punishment, such as expulsion and loss of athletic and academic privileges, in addition to having a permanent criminal record  There has been a spotlight on colleges and universities in recent years; they are cracking down on college crimes, especially those involving sexual assault. If you’ve been charged, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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