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Criminal charges can turn your life upside down, and this is particularly the case when it comes to college students. You have enough to worry about without a potential criminal conviction that could adversely impact your future. If you are facing any type of criminal charges, you may wish to consult a Pelham student defense lawyer for advice.

College students often end up with criminal charges related to minor alcohol consumption, possession of marijuana, and other minor crimes. Even one arrest can trigger university disciplinary proceedings. Working with an experienced defense lawyer may improve your ability to avoid the negative consequences of an arrest and criminal conviction.

Typical Types of Criminal Offenses College Students Face

While college students certainly can be charged with the same types of criminal offenses as anyone else, some of these offenses occur more commonly than others. Even relatively minor offenses can have serious consequences. Getting legal advice from a Pelham student defense lawyer as quickly as possible may be crucial to building a defense to these charges.

Alcohol-Related Offenses

Pursuant to Ala. Code § 28-1-5, it is illegal for individuals who are under the age of 21 to possess, drink, transport, or buy alcoholic beverages. Violation of this section can result in a fine ranging from $25 to $100 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days.

However, Ala. Code § 28-3A-25 makes a much wider range of alcohol-related offenses illegal, which also may apply to college students caught with alcohol. Under this section, the penalties are more severe. College students convicted of this offense may face a fine ranging from $50 to $100, a jail sentence of up to three months, and a mandatory license suspension of three to six months.

Marijuana Possession

Although alcohol may be the most common substance used by college students, some students do use marijuana and other controlled substances. Marijuana is a common cause of college student arrests, since the possession of marijuana for any purpose remains illegal in the state of Alabama. College students can face criminal charges as a result of being caught with marijuana or paraphernalia in their possession.

Although possession of a small amount of marijuana for “personal use” pursuant to Ala. Code § 13A-12-214 is a Class A misdemeanor, it still has the potential to result in a jail sentence of up to one year. Likewise, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor under Alabama law.

The charge becomes first-degree possession, which is a felony offense when individuals have a previous second-degree possession conviction. This is a situation in which college students should strongly consider looking to a student defense attorney in Pelham for help.

Youthful Offender and Pretrial Diversion Programs in Pelham

For first-time college student offenders, resolution of criminal charges through youthful offenders and pretrial diversion programs may be available. Under Ala. Code §15-19-1, first-time offender under the age of 21 can seek youthful offender status.

Depending on the circumstances, individuals who qualify as youthful offenders may see reduced penalties, such as community service and rehabilitative treatment, a sealed criminal record, or even no criminal record at all.

Pretrial diversion programs vary from one county to the next, but participation in one of these programs divert individuals into individualized programs designed to give them a second chance and avoid a criminal record. Upon completion of the program, which may include community service and counseling, the individuals may have the charges dismissed.

Another option is nolle prosequi, which means that while no further action on the case occurs, the prosecutor reserves the right to reopen the case during the statute of limitations for the criminal offense involved.

Talking to a Pelham Student Defense Attorney

As a college student, you want to safeguard your ability to pursue graduate school or any career path that you choose, which might be more difficult with a criminal conviction. A conviction also can trigger student disciplinary proceedings, which can have an adverse impact on your future and create a permanent record of misconduct. Consulting a Pelham student defense lawyer for advice may be key to avoiding these repercussions.

Take the steps necessary to protect your rights and defend yourself against criminal charges by getting the legal advice that is necessary in your case. In doing so, you may be able to continue working toward your future plans with no delays.