College Student Criminal Defense in Hudson County

Universities and colleges in Hudson County constantly deal with major and minor crimes on their campuses. When misconduct threatens students, staff, and faculty, schools must take action. Usually, this means following their own disciplinary procedures separate from those of the criminal justice system.

If a minor crime happens in public but off campus, it's possible that no one reports it. Even if police identify a victim, they can decline to press charges. But on college campuses, there is a heightened requirement to hold students responsible and work with police, especially for crimes of violent or sexual nature.

As a Hudson County student, you face a higher risk of being charged with a crime and facing disciplinary action if it involves on-campus activity. Criminal charges don't prevent schools from continuing their disciplinary procedures, and you may be subject to two sets of hearings simultaneously.

When accusations come your way, you need the help of the experienced Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm to defend you from these two unique avenues of attack. Your college's disciplinary procedures place your future at risk just as much as criminal charges, and we are well-versed in handling these threats before they result in irreversible damage. Call our team today at 888-535-3686 or schedule your consultation online to get started.

Hudson County Charges and School Discipline

Criminal charges and college disciplinary action often go hand in hand. When a university discovers that someone may have committed a crime on campus, it often forwards this information to local law enforcement. Then, police investigate the incident further and determine whether they have probable cause to arrest and charge the student.

Similarly, law enforcement officers who learn of misconduct on campus or make an arrest of a student can inform the school. Not all crimes on campus involve current students, but colleges can begin disciplinary proceedings if the alleged perpetrator is a student under their jurisdiction.

Regardless of who first learns about potential criminality, Hudson County students alleged to have committed on-campus misconduct may face accusations from college officials and local law enforcement at the same time. Many students think that criminal charges are all that matters, but severe disciplinary sanctions from your school may have a more significant impact on your life and career. If you are accused of any crime as a Hudson County college student, contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team today to learn how we can help protect you from overzealous disciplinary proceedings and criminal court systems.

Consequences of Criminal Charges and School Discipline

Disciplinary procedures and New Jersey criminal proceedings have many important distinctions, but they aren't as different as you may think. In many cases, defending yourself from accusations levied by your school is just as stressful as defending yourself in court. In fact, depending on the criminal charge, sanctions from your school can introduce more issues to your life than a criminal conviction.

Just like penalties related to a criminal conviction, sanctions from your school can vary from minor to life-changing. Warning letters and class sign-up restrictions are annoying, but they are nothing compared to getting suspended or expelled from your university. If you received acceptance letters from multiple colleges, you likely made a tough decision when choosing where to attend, ultimately selecting the one you felt was the best for your future. But when you are suspended or expelled, this future is now in flux.

Future colleges will ask for details about your suspension or expulsion, and they may use this information when choosing to accept you at their school. Previous rulings from disciplinary boards can follow you for years, severely damaging your mental health as you attempt to rebuild from your current setbacks. If you are in the beginning stages of accusations of misconduct and school disciplinary procedures, the Lento Law Firm can help defend you from the allegations before they get out of hand and limit your future prospects.

Hudson County Campus Crimes

Barring very specific outliers, all New Jersey laws apply everywhere in the state, including college campuses. If you commit a crime on campus, you can face charges in the New Jersey criminal court system, on top of future discipline from your school. Some of the most common crimes that take place on Hudson County college campuses include:

  • Alcohol Abuse: New Jersey law makes it a crime for anyone under the age of 21 to drink, purchase, or possess alcohol.
  • Sex Crimes: Many sex crimes in New Jersey carry with them long prison sentences, steep fines, and mandatory placement on the state's sex offender registry. In addition, federal Title IX legislation requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to perform their own investigation, often working in tandem with local law enforcement.
  • Drug Offenses: Hudson County law enforcement works diligently to arrest and charge anyone who possesses or intends to distribute controlled substances in the county. Depending on the type and amount of drugs, it isn't uncommon for the punishments for drug offenses to include years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Criminal Mischief: Vandalism and destruction of campus property can result in a criminal mischief conviction with unique punishments. For example, courts usually require guilty parties to pay for the cost of repair and perform community service for acts of graffiti.
  • Harassment: Harassment on college campuses includes any series of alarming or annoying conduct directed at someone, including online behavior.
  • Hazing: New Jersey defines hazing as endangering another person during initiation to a group, such as the fraternities and sororities found on college campuses. Schools often contact law enforcement after instances of hazing involving students on campus.
  • False Identification Offenses: False identification crimes include attempts to impersonate another or assume a false identity to injure another person or obtain benefits, usually monetary.
  • Stalking: New Jersey defines stalking as repeated attempts to harass, communicate with, or follow someone, resulting in them fearing for their safety.
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses: Disorderly conduct is a broad term covering inappropriate public behavior. This can include fighting, threatening someone, screaming, yelling, or using overly offensive language. Disorderly persons offenses are similar to criminal misdemeanors and can result in a month in jail and $500 in fines.

The criminal penalties you will face depend on the specific type of crime you are alleged to commit and, of course, your ability to defend yourself in court. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can get to work crafting a defense today if you are accused of misconduct on your college campus.

Hudson County Criminal Procedures

Accusations of on-campus crimes introduce a ton of risk to your life, and securing the help of an experienced legal defense team should be your number one priority when you receive the bad news. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has a deep understanding of New Jersey criminal procedures, and we are prepared to represent you when serious accusations come your way. Students facing criminal offenses in New Jersey can expect to endure the following steps during the course of their case:

  1. Pretrial Procedures: Pretrial procedures, such as bail hearings, arraignments, and the discovery process, provide both sides ample opportunity to learn about the charges and begin building a case.
  2. Prosecution's Burden of Proof: Just because you are accused of a crime doesn't mean you are on the back foot regarding your defense. In most cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Experienced attorneys will use every tool possible to defend against the prosecution's arguments and place doubt in the minds of a judge or jury.
  3. Motion to Dismiss: If the prosecution's case does not have merit, your attorneys can file a motion to dismiss your case with the judge. This is most common when there is insufficient evidence, or the facts of the case don't rise to the level of criminality.
  4. Trial: Despite how vital attorneys are in the early phases, your trial will highlight the importance of skilled and experienced legal representation. During a trial, both sides will present their case by introducing evidence, calling witnesses, and cross-examining witnesses from the other side. After closing arguments, the court will decide your guilt based on the evidence presented and your attorneys' arguments.
  5. Sentencing: If found guilty of a crime, there will be a separate hearing at a later date to decide what punishment is warranted. Attorneys can continue to provide assistance as they argue for a lesser sentence or begin the appeals process.

Even if law enforcement did not contact school officials after your arrest, your college may learn of a criminal conviction and start the process of disciplinary action against you. The Lento Law Firm has represented hundreds of students across New Jersey, helping prevent convictions in court and limit disciplinary action taken by their college. When you are accused of a crime involving your school, always reach out to experienced attorneys to secure the best chance at favorable rulings.

Hudson County School Disciplinary Procedures

Colleges have the potential to begin disciplinary proceedings against you when they learn from police of potential criminal activity on campus. In some cases, schools can take action for off-campus behavior as long as the school is connected in some way. The process will be unique for each school, but regardless of where you attend college, you shouldn't ignore the very real risks to your future. In general, the process will look like this:

  1. Complaint: Your school can only begin proceedings if it knows of the alleged misconduct. Most complaints are sent to schools by law enforcement or witnesses.
  2. Investigation: Your school will inform you of the pending disciplinary procedures and start an investigation into the incident. Investigators will usually interview you and allow you to tell your side of the story.
  3. Pre-hearing Conference: After the investigation, school officials will decide upon penalties based on the report's findings. In pre-hearing conferences, you can agree to their terms or negotiate for better terms before requiring a full-fledged hearing.
  4. Hearing: If you disagree with the investigation's report or believe a different punishment is warranted based on the facts, you can request a hearing. Similar to a trial, you can present evidence and call witnesses to bolster your side.
  5. Decision: While hearing officers and school officials still have to follow the evidence, they are not required to make decisions based on the standards set by New Jersey criminal courts. If they decide you are responsible for the alleged crime or misconduct, they can impose sanctions, ranging from simple warnings to suspension or expulsion.
  6. Appeal: Students are usually allowed to appeal disciplinary decisions and change the outcome of their hearings.

If alleged criminal activity or misconduct occurs on a college campus, the school must take action to protect students and faculty from further harm. At the same time, they must provide accused students the ability to defend themselves from accusations. Students are allowed legal representation during school disciplinary proceedings, and you should always work with experienced attorneys to ensure the school's investigatory process is fair, impartial, and respectful of your rights.

Experienced Hudson County School and Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are a Hudson County student with pending criminal charges and disciplinary sanctions, you can only fully protect your future by defending against both sets of accusations. Even preventing a criminal conviction isn't enough, as your school can follow its own procedures to expel or suspend you from campus. Never assume that misconduct allegations will blow over, and always reach out to attorneys as soon as you know you are under investigation. The earlier you start working on your defense, the better your chances.

The Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team will craft unique defenses that prevent criminal penalties as much as possible and limit the sanctions your school imposes on you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online to get started on your defense. Don't let a simple mistake or false accusation ruin your future.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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