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  • "I was referred to Mr. Pumphrey’s law firm through a mutual friend who spoke highly of him. At no surprise, he came through for me in a huge way. He was effective and efficient. If you are in need of a top notch lawyer that gets the job done, Don Pumphrey is who you need!" by Jonathan C., Past Client
  • "I would challenge anyone to find a more experienced, knowledgeable and result oriented criminal defense attorney anywhere" by Jonathan E., Peer
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College Student Criminal Defense

Starting your career as a university student creates an entirely different environment of new and exciting experiences. Walking onto a college campus for the first time is like taking a step into a world of opportunities unlike any other. Young college students are beginning a period in their life of self-discovery. Meeting new people, trying new things, and living away from home for the very first time.

As wonderful as the college experience can be for students, there are also downfalls of being set completely free from the leash. Sometimes free reign isn’t all it let up to be. Sometimes fitting in is not beneficial and can potentially lead you to the wrong crowd. When a student commits a crime, it is often because of this reason, naivety, or just an honest mistake. However, innocent mistakes can result in extremely serious consequences. As a result, students can find themselves facing serious legal or administrative repercussions.

Types of Criminal Defense for College Students 

What are the types of crimes students find themselves accused of? Below is a list of charges that our law office covers, that are common to college students:

Accusations for drug charges can include possession of a controlled substance, illegal possession of prescription drugs, possession with intent to sell, drug trafficking, marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, and trafficking prescription drugs.

Driving under the influence is defined as when a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while being in control of a vehicle. DUI charges in Florida come with severe penalties including jail time, fines, potential loss of license, and requirements to complete community service.

Traffic violations can result in fines, a driver’s license suspension, or even jail time. Reckless driving—when a person drives in complete disregard to the safety or property of others—is considered a traffic violation. Driving with a suspended license is also considered a traffic violation.

The punishment for theft and property crimes can lead to severe punishments and jail time, even if it seemed like there was minor damage caused. Theft is broken down into petit theft and grand theft, dependent on the value of the stolen property. Property crimes include vandalism, arson, and burglary.

Sex crime accusations not only carry severe social judgement, but they can also be punishable by fines and jail time. In addition, offenders convicted of a sexual offense against a minor must then register as a sex offender. Common types of sex crimes include sexual assault, rape, exposure of organs, statutory rape, child pornography, and lewd and lascivious acts.

Fraternities and sororities are an extremely common extracurricular activity for university students. The “Greek” community allows students to join a membership that promotes camaraderie and philanthropic activity among students and alumni. One issue universities across the US have faced is the concept of hazing: Fla. Section 1006.63 defines hazing as any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical safety of students. Although it is widely seen as a tradition, there have been instances of criminal charges for those involved.

Student Code of Conduct

Every university campus has its own Student Code of Conduct, which explains what is not allowed on campus or as a university student. It also explains the penalties in the case of a violation. Violations of the Student Code of Conduct, on or off campus, are typically prosecuted by the Dean of Students for that institution. This can result in academic implications such as losing Bright Futures, which is explained in Fla. Statute 1009.53, or other scholarships originally awarded to the student.

Additional Impacts

Getting charged with a crime as a university student has multiple negative outcomes. In addition to affecting your personal record, it can also harshly impact your education. Attending court proceedings, incarceration, and community service can result in missed classes. The domino effect of missed classed equals lost knowledge, and the potential drop in grades. This can affect the ability to hold the required GPA for scholarships or to even retain your spot as a student. You don’t want to waste the thousands of dollars spent on tuition when you can be putting your time and effort into your studies.   

Criminal charges can also affect the type of funding students receive for university. Certain programs or scholarships will revoke the granted money upon hearing about the accused charge. If you have already been convicted of a crime, the Federal Government may prevent you from receiving any financial help for future studies.

Surprise, It’s a Felony!

What some students would consider normal college behavior can take a serious turn for the worst. Such incidents can result in an unexpected felony charge. Receiving an accusation or being charged with a felony can have serious implications on your future. Penalties include the possible expulsion from your university, or issues applying for future jobs.  

Felony charges that are typically seen with college students:

  • Fake IDs
  • Theft of a Rival Mascot (Animal Cruelty or Other Wildlife Violations)
  • Theft of Fire Extinguisher
  • Possession and Trafficking Drugs at a Party

When college students have been accused of committing a crime, their first defense is to claim they were under the influence of alcohol. Although this may have been the reason the student acted out of order and lost self control, it does not hold up as an argument in court. Florida Statute 775.051 explains that voluntary intoxication resulting from the consumption of alcohol or other controlled substance is not considered a defense to an accused crime. If you have been accused or charged with a crime as a college student, it is of utter importance that you contact an experienced defense attorney to fight for your rights. 

What Happens After a College Student Has Been Accused of a Crime?

If a university becomes aware of a student’s criminal arrest, that institution will seek disciplinary action. The process can be quite different from a criminal case. The student will be called into an academic hearing based on the accusation. There is a chance that the student will face a suspension or expulsion from the university. Our attorneys can speak to your academic advisors and prepare you for the administrative hearings. Find our pages on Student Code of Conduct and What to do if Your School Calls You in for a Hearing for more information. 

Florida Universities

According to the State University System, there are 12 state universities in the state of Florida. If you include state colleges or community colleges, that number goes up even higher. Each college or university has thousands of students starting each semester, which leaves room for a lot of good interactions as well as bad. As a student, it is important to be aware of the different information and contacts on your personal campus in case of an emergency or if there has been a crime committed. Within the Tallahassee area there are the two main universities:

Florida State University (FSU)

FSU has helpful information regarding the FSU campus police, victim advocate programs, student counseling, and refugee housing. As FSU is one of the closest universities to our law office, we have provided an extra page on criminal defense for FSU Students.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU)

FAMU also provides information on the Department of Campus Safety and Security, a crime prevention unit, and a list of preventative programs aimed to stop criminal activity on and around campus. You can find more information on criminal defense for FAMU Students here.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you are a college student who has been accused of a crime—or the parent of a college student who has been charged with a crime—it is important to seek the advice of an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer. Don Pumphrey and his team have vast experience in Florida law and can effectively represent you or a loved one. In the time that you or a loved one needs defense the most, Don Pumphrey is ready to fight for the second chance you need. Don’t let one mistake affect the rest of your future. Call 850-681-7777 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney today.

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