The nation's campuses are reporting an increase in student arrests, a troubling trend that will impact futures and career potential for far too many young people as we head into spring break and the end-of-year graduation season.
While Birmingham may be the state's largest city, it is the influx of college students that truly swells the population each winter and spring. Area institutions of higher learning include the University of Alabama at Birmingham (including the medical school and dental school), Samford University and Cumberland School of Law, Miles College and Law School, Birmingham School of Business, Birmingham Southern College and Virginia College, as well as several community colleges in Shelby and Jefferson counties.
College Student Legal Defense in Birmingham
The ongoing risk of school shootings and increasing emphasis on sexual assault prevention and prosecution are just two reasons more attention is being focused on campus law enforcement.
Project Know recently collected data from the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) Campus Safety and Security, and found the most common crimes committed on "wet" (alcohol is allowed but rules apply) and "dry" (alcohol is prohibited) campuses per 10,000 students. Arrests included:
- Alcohol-related: 16 arrests on wet campuses and 19 arrests on dry campuses.
- Drug related: 17 arrests on wet campuses and 13 arrests on dry campuses.
- Burglary: 6.3 arrests on wet campuses and 4.6 arrests on dry campuses.
- Rape: 3.3 arrests on wet campuses and 2 arrests on dry campuses.
- Motor vehicle theft: 2.3 arrests on wet campuses and 1.2 arrests on dry campuses.
- Fondling: 1.8 arrests on wet campuses and 0.9 arrests on dry campuses.
- Aggravated assault: 1.1 arrests on wet campuses and 0.9 arrests on dry campuses.
- Robbery: 0.7 arrests on wet campuses and 0.3 arrests on dry campuses.
- Arson: 0.4 arrests on wet campuses and 0.2 arrests on dry campuses.
There are real risks of wrongful arrest, overcharging or other unfair treatment. Birmingham defense lawyers experienced in handling student arrests also know even minor convictions can impact job prospects, scholarships and other opportunities for years to come.
Campus Arrests: Defense Lawyers Protect Your Rights
One common mistake college students make is to ignore charges. Other students may decide to quickly plead guilty. This is especially true when a prosecutor offers a quick deal with no jail time in an attempt to clear a case from the docket.
However, acting rashly or out of embarrassment can leave you with a lasting criminal record. And failure to appear, even for a traffic violation in Birmingham Municipal Court, is a separate offense punishable by a $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail.
The good news is cases involving college students are often very defensible. In many cases the charges are relatively minor and the student has little or no criminal record. Typically campus police departments are staffed with young, inexperienced officers. Even municipal departments commonly cut corners because they think a student will simply plead guilty to the charges and go home for the summer.
Consequently, students who choose to seek legal help may see a reduction or dismissal of the charges almost as quickly as a prosecutor would have kept (or broken) his promise. A defense attorney can also minimize inconvenience by limiting or eliminating a student's need to appear in court or comply with probationary terms. Your attorney will have a much better idea of the long-term impact of a given charge or the advantages of accepting an offered plea deal.
Defense lawyers who work with college students also understand money can be a concern when hiring legal help (remember, we were college students, too) and can address any associated fees or charges at the outset.
The most important thing for a student to do is pick up the phone and ask for help. Contact Barclay Law LLC and find out how we can help you.