When teenagers and young adults head off to college, many of them make mistakes. Those mistakes can have lasting consequences that they may not have thought about before, such as heavy fines, the loss of financial support for their college, expulsion or time in prison.
After turning 18, young adults need to understand that they are no longer minors and won’t be treated like they are. A college-aged crime might seem like it’s one committed by a child, but in the eyes of a court, that child is an adult.
What should you do if your child commits a crime while in college?
The first thing parents should do is find out exactly what their child is accused of. From the start, they should tell their child not to speak about the accusations on social media. They should not talk to the authorities without an attorney present, either.
After making sure that your child is aware of their rights and has legal support, the next step is to find out exactly how this charge could affect them. For example, if they are accused of a DUI, it’s necessary to look into what the school will do about a conviction or if your child will lose scholarship or financial aid.
Once you are able to discuss the potential penalties with your child and their attorney, it’s a good idea to start taking steps to mitigate the damage. Judges like to see teens and young adults who are proactive after being accused of wrongdoing. For example, if your child was accused of drinking and driving, going to a substance abuse treatment center or 12-step program to address an addiction or drinking problem may look good to the court. Of course, if the accusation is completely false, you should continue to build a defense to show that the officer who accused your child was wrong.
Parents may be extremely stressed by the idea of a child committing a crime while in college, but it’s important to remember that the court does recognize that college-aged adults are still learning. Though they are adults, there may be diversion opportunities to help them avoid a conviction on their record. Your attorney will also help fight to prevent a conviction if at all possible.