Columbia Student Defense Lawyer

When a college student is convicted of a crime, the consequences can be far greater than just the immediate punishment for the offense. A student may see other impacts, both in the present and the future. Things are not as simple as just looking at what you or your child are facing now.

If you are a parent, you want to know that you have hired a qualified and capable criminal defense attorney to defend your child. The attorneys at Shealey Law Firm in Columbia defend college students who have been charged with crimes or accused of misconduct. Call us today to discuss your case.

Potential College Student Criminal Charges in Columbia

It’s natural for college students to mix their social life with their academic studies. Gathering at campus events, or driving a car around their campus and local community, students have a right to live and potentially work here.

In the course of their life at college, they may be charged with various forms of misconduct. There is no such thing as a minor criminal charge.

Shealey Law Firm in Columbia, SC helps college students facing charges such as:

  • Drug possession; most commonly marijuana
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Underage drinking, or buying alcohol for those who are underage
  • Disorderly conduct or public intoxication
  • DUI
  • Sexual assault

Potential Discipline for College Student Charges

You or your child could face two types of discipline or penalties for alleged criminal conduct:

  • Criminal charges under South Carolina law
  • Discipline through your college’s internal process that could result in suspension or expulsion

Both of these consequences are extremely serious. Many colleges have a zero-tolerance policy, and they rush to judgment to punish a student to protect their own reputation.

The most immediate short-term threat is to one’s freedom. Many of the alleged crimes listed above carry a potential jail sentence. Depending on the severity of the offense, a student could even receive a stiff penalty when they do not have a prior criminal record.

While some of these offenses may not result in jail time, they can still have a large impact on one’s future.

Student loans are a key consideration in many college student criminal cases. Some types of convictions could lead to the loss of financial aid, making it impossible to continue in college. Crimes that result in incarceration can also mean the loss of financial aid, along with the impact on an individual’s life ahead.

In addition, a student may be left to begin your working career with a criminal record. While South Carolina law does allow for certain drug convictions to be removed from a person’s record once they have completed their sentence (if you are under the age of 25), someone may still have convictions that are visible when applying for a job.

Employers may be able to see you or your child’s criminal record when they perform a background check, and they could choose not to hire or rescind an existing offer. A blemished record could follow an individual for many years, depending on the type of conviction.

About Conduct Hearings at a University

If a case ends up as part of your school’s disciplinary process, a student will not have the same protections that one would as a defendant under South Carolina law. While the individual is entitled to some due process, they do not have Constitutional rights in a conduct hearing.

You or your child’s school would have its own disciplinary procedures, depending on the type of case. If accused of sexual misconduct for example, the case may proceed under Title IX.

The school would still have its own written procedures for other types of cases. Depending on the procedure, a hearing officer could be assigned for the case, whose job it is to gather evidence and learn what happened. The investigator may interview a student to ask questions and hear their side of the story.

The college disciplinary process is more informal than the criminal justice process. Students do not have the major protection of not being guilty unless the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidentiary rules are also more informal, and the hearing officer could consider a wide range of evidence.

While a student has rights, they are far less extensive in a collegiate institution. A college does not have the same interests and motivations as the criminal justice system. The school may believe that it is making its campus safer for students, while the criminal system is about justice, regardless of the result.

What Students Should Do After Being Charged

If you are a college student or you are the parent of a student who has been charged with a crime or is facing potential charges at the university, you should do the following:

  • Contact a lawyer immediately after an arrest or having been informed by the university of an opened investigation.
  • Do not speak to anyone, whether it is law enforcement or a college disciplinary hearing officer, without the advice of an attorney.
  • Prepare extensively for a conduct hearing.
  • File an appeal or use the legal process to appeal if the wrong result was reached in the case

Without an attorney, a student would be left to face the legal process alone, increasing the chances that there could be harm to their future. Students need to mount the strongest possible legal defense, knowing that what happens now could have repercussions for many years to come.

Contact a Columbia Student Defense Lawyer

The first step is to talk to a lawyer. At Shealey Law Firm, we offer free consultations 24/7 to prospective clients who want to discuss their case and learn their legal options. While you will go through a stressful process, hiring a lawyer could also take some of the burden off your shoulders. As a parent, you can get some peace of mind knowing that you have an attorney to defend your child. We represent students, both in the criminal justice process and the college disciplinary process. To speak to an experienced Columbia student defense attorney, you can call us today at 803-590-3917 or message us through our website.


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