Students, immature as they are, may find themselves on the wrong side of the law with offenses that are much less serious in nature, then, say, illegal possession of drugs, guns, and the like. The minor crimes may not in themselves be alarming, but in the long run, can affect the academic and professional careers of these students.
Not only this, these minor offenses may act as a hurdle for the student in getting employment with the government or private organizations. This is because of the background checks that these organizations undertake with a special focus on criminal convictions or any type of contact with the law enforcement agencies that may have resulted in arrest or citations.
Here are five offenses that are very commonly committed by students and how they are dealt with in Texas:
If a student is charged with disorderly conduct, the prosecution will leave no stone unturned in proving that he or she was instrumental in creating a public disturbance that compelled the police to arrest him or her. Fortunately, disorderly conduct is a summary offense in some states, making it less severe than a misdemeanor or a felony.
In the eventuality of the student getting arrested for disorderly conduct, the criminal defense attorney will try and negotiate a favorable non-trial disposition that leads to expungement of the criminal record, thereby safeguarding the student’s future employment.
To this end, the criminal defense attorney should not rest until the prosecution has not only withdrawn the case against the student but has also got an expungement of the student’s record. In no way should the criminal defense attorney make the student plead guilty to this charge.
If a student is caught purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages in public in Texas, he or she may face the following consequences:
- Class C misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine up to $500.
- Attend alcohol awareness class.
- Undertake community service that may extend from eight to 40 hours.
- Suspension of driver’s license from 30 to 180 days or its total denial.
In the event of a third offense, the student who is 17 or older, may be fined from $250 to $2,000, confinement to jail up to 180 days or both. His or her driver’s license will be automatically suspended.
If the charge of underage drinking is leveled against the student, his or her first step should be to deny it and not plead guilty. It will give the criminal defense lawyer a chance to either negotiate a favorable non-trial disposition or contest the charges.
Contesting the charge will force the prosecution to prove underage drinking beyond a reasonable doubt. The non-availability of independent witnesses willing to come forward and those with conflicting interests, such as bartenders, waiters, bar employees, etc. makes the student’s case stronger.
Possession of marijuana
Despite rapidly changing attitudes towards marijuana, Texas is still very strict regarding its possession and sale. Unlike its neighboring states, Texas has still not permitted the use of marijuana for medical use. Students caught with this drug can expect to be dealt severely under the Texas laws.
Although a student enjoys the Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights under the United States Constitution, if he or she caught with anything less than two ounces of marijuana, a 180-day jail term and a fine up to $2,000 are certain. For the criminal defense lawyer, it is important not to proceed with the pre-trial motion, but rather opt for an alternative diversion program.
Drag racing in Texas comes under the ambit of street racing and other similar speed contests and is defined under Section 545.420 of TX Transportation Code. According to it, a ‘drag race’ involves two or more vehicles being driven side by side in a competitive attempt to beat each other.
Street racing or drag racing, previously considered as a simple traffic violation was upgraded to Class B misdemeanor under the 2003 law. A student involved in drag racing may be fined $2,000 or 180 days in jail or both.
5 Driving under the influence (DUI)
Texas has a Zero Tolerance Law for minors. A student, who is younger than 21 years, is debarred from operating a motor vehicle under any amount of alcohol or drugs. If it is the student’s first offense, he or she may face the following:
- Suspension of driver’s license for a year.
- Fine up to $500.
- Attend alcohol education program, at least 12 hours long.
- Those defaulting on alcohol education program get an additional 180 days of license suspension.
- If the judge awards community service, a 90-day license suspension comes into effect.
Texas still has stringent laws as compared to other states, especially where students and minors are concerned. In case, any student is faced with any such minor offense, he or she should consult criminal defense attorneys for college students in North Texas. They will prove competent guides to rescue the student from these offenses.