The media routinely reports on college students running afoul of the law. In some instances, a college student is alleged to have committed a serious crime. In other cases, the charge stems out of a young person’s ignorance or misunderstanding of the law. There are four key facts about criminal law that every college student should bear in mind.
1. The Legal Drinking Age Everywhere in the United States is 21
One of the most common laws a college student violates is the one related to underage drinking. While this occurs at public pubs through the use of fake IDs, it also occurs on college and university campuses with tremendous frequency.
More than a few college students make the mistake that if a college or university permits the on-campus consumption of alcoholic beverages, it is permissible for an underage student to consume. This conclusion is probably based on the (mis)perception that a college or university campus is somehow something unto its own when it comes to alcohol consumption. For example, a college student may believe that a private institution is private property and alcohol drinking is O.K.
It is not. Even on a so-called “wet” campus, consuming alcohol by a person under the age of 21 is illegal.
2. Campus Cops Are Not Mall Cops
Another common mistake among college students is that the university police department is populated with the likes of Paul Blart, Mall Cop. In fact – particularly at public institutions – the on-campus police force is a true law enforcement agency, vested with the full authority of “real world” police officers.
There are restrictions to free speech at institutions of higher learning that may not exist in other venues. This particularly is the case at a private college or university. Thus, before mounting a protest or spouting off in the student union, it is important for a college student to understand the rules governing public speech at a particular institution. Of course, there are oftentimes valid reasons to challenge such restrictions. But, a college student is well-advised to seek legal counsel before charging down such a course.
4. When in Trouble, Get Help
If a college student finds his or her self faced with some sort of legal problem, consulting an experienced Pennsylvania criminal attorney is a must. A young person’s rights and interests are best protected through the early intervention and assistance of a skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer.