The Chicago metro area, including DuPage and Cook Counties, are home to dozens of colleges and universities – some of the top in the county – as well as community colleges and vocational schools. Students and young people from across Illinois and throughout the United States and the world make this vibrant place their home for a few years to attend these schools and/or to explore Chicago.
For young people out in the world, this time is their first breath of freedom and independence. Sometimes, however, they may experiment with this freedom in ways that can lead to criminal activity – whether intended or not.
At Dolci & Weiland, we understand college students and young people making mistakes. We also understand how these mistakes can transpire into serious consequences that can impact their futures in ways they never imagined. Here's an overview of what you should know if a student or a parent of a student and you or your child encounters the law in a way that could be detrimental. Then, contact our office to schedule a free consultation and get answers to your specific questions.
College Students, Young People & Common Offenses in the Chicago Metro Area
College students and young people want to explore – this is a transitional time for them. They want to test the boundaries, and doing so can materialize as illegal activities – whether or not they know it.
Some of the most common criminal offenses college students are accused of include the following:
- Underage DUI
- Out-of-state DUI
- Drug Possession
- Fake ID
- Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
- Minor in Possession
- Open Container
- Resisting Arrest
- Sexual assault
These crimes can all lead to an arrest and serious consequences thereafter.
After an arrest for any of the above criminal offenses or another criminal offense not listed, you enter the criminal justice scene. A conviction could mean jail/prison, fines, driver's license suspension, and/or probation. What you do directly after your arrest can determine your future.
You plead guilty at the arraignment.
You could plead guilty at your arraignment and be sentenced rather quickly – many students think this is the easiest way to get the whole ordeal over, but it's not. You end up with a criminal record and may have to face disciplinary action at your school. If you are sentenced to jail, then that's time out of school. More likely than not, you'll be given probation and fined, especially if it is your first offense, but probation requires strict adherence to the terms of the probation, or else you could end up back in front of the judge again.
You accept a plea deal.
You may hire a lawyer who advises you that a plea deal is in your best interest. A plea deal may very well be the best option for some students. It can involve anything from community service to treatment programs. It can also include things like deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication could mean your case is dismissed, but again, you must fully satisfy the terms of the program or else risk going back before the judge. In many plea deals, however, you still end up with a criminal record.
You retain a lawyer to fight the charge.
If it's you future you are worried about, then your best bet may be fighting the charges. Only going to trial to win an acquittal is the way to be free from a potential criminal record. You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and your attorney will work to create doubt or prove your innocence altogether.
If, however, you are not acquitted, then you face sentencing, but during the process, your attorney can still negotiate and provide mitigating factors to reduce your sentence and to help you avoid any jail time.
If the criminal activity took place on campus, then you will likely endure the university's disciplinary process. This could mean anything between fines and expulsion. It is important to remember, though, that you can be represented by an attorney during this process, too.
Consequences of a Criminal Record
The consequences of a criminal record are many. The consequences are dependent on the nature of the crime and can include:
- loss of scholarships
- loss of financial aid
- loss of housing on campus
- difficulty finding a job
- difficulty getting a professional license (e.g., nursing license, medical license, attorney license, real estate license, CPA, etc.)
- problems with attaining security clearance
- deportation if on a student visa
- inability to travel outside the county (e.g., a DUI could prevent you from entering Canada)
Consequences of a Felony
If you are convicted of a felony, then you can lose your right to vote and the right to own and use a firearm. To have these civil rights reinstated is a long process.
Out-of-State Criminal Charges
You may get suspended or expelled from school but will still have to remain in or travel back to the state to attend the criminal proceedings. This can be costly. To exacerbate the situation, you may have been expelled as a result of the crime you allegedly committed – so you must remain in the state while not even being able to attend classes.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Representing Students & Young People in Chicago
At Dolci & Weiland, not only do we have children of our own but we've been college students. We know the atmosphere, the temptations, the excitement of something new. But we also understand the costs when things go bad. If you are young or a college student and have been arrested, get the legal guidance you need by experienced criminal defense attorneys. Call us today at 630.261.9098 to schedule a consultation.