College Student Criminal Defense in Middlesex County

Colleges and universities are supposed to be havens for students. Unfortunately, on most campuses, students are hyper-focused on their personal safety rather than their education. To ensure the safety of the school's community, they require that all of their faculty, staff, and other teachers, as well as their on-campus police and security officers, notify the school if they see or hear of any misconduct. Moreover, colleges and universities in Middlesex County have specific policies for working closely with local law enforcement agencies to discipline and deter students from committing misconduct on or off campus.

Many students believe that getting in trouble with the law has more of an impact on their lives than school disciplinary action might. However, when a student is accused of a crime on campus, the school's punishment can be just as detrimental, if not more than one the state imposes. In fact, the school's disciplinary policies and procedures for discipline

Consulting an attorney the moment you learn of such accusations, whether from the police or your school, is the only way to make sure you get the best possible result from your case. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has helped students all over New Jersey who need to defend themselves against supposed criminal offenses. Call 888-535-3686 today for help, or schedule a consultation online.

Middlesex County Charges and School Discipline

Once the school finds out that a student might be implicated in a campus crime, they may alert law enforcement. Then, it's up to law enforcement to decide if they want to pursue the matter. If they do, and they find probable cause for an arrest, they will notify the state prosecutors. However, if law enforcement is notified of the accusation first, they have the option to let the school know. The school will decide if they should pursue disciplinary action for the crime.

For instance, if a student is found destroying the dean's car, the college or university can have the police arrest the student. They can also bring disciplinary action for misconduct against the student. Alternatively, if the police arrest a student for supposedly sexually assaulting another student, they will notify the school of the incident, and the school pursue disciplinary action for violating Title IX.

As you can imagine, being adjudicated by both the state and your school can have long-lasting effects on your entire life – both personally and professionally. The best thing you can do is work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who knows how to navigate both the school's disciplinary procedures and the legal system.

Consequences of Criminal Charges and School Discipline

Facing allegations of misconduct on campus can be overwhelming. Whether these accusations stem from law enforcement, school, or both, the repercussions can be detrimental. Despite this, many students still believe that criminal convictions far outweigh the school's disciplinary actions, which is not always true.

While criminal convictions can force a student to pay fines or possibly serve a jail or prison sentence, school disciplinary actions can prevent students from meeting their earning potential, buying houses, receiving scholarships, qualifying for graduate school, or even finishing their degrees. Students might also be placed on no-contact orders, barring them from living on campus or taking certain classes, which will force them into unwanted careers and increase student debt.

Moreover, students who are convicted of a criminal charge and/or facing disciplinary action from their school will suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and other mental and emotional struggles.

Middlesex County Campus Crimes

Colleges and universities in Middlesex County are not immune from the New Jersey criminal code. As such, if a student is caught committing a crime on campus, they can be criminally convicted and all the consequences such a conviction would face.

Below, we have listed the more common crimes that are seen on Middlesex County college or university campuses.

Alcohol and tobacco abuse

It is a crime for anyone under 21 years old to purchase, possess, or drink alcohol. It is also a crime for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase, possess, or use tobacco products.

Criminal Mischief

Though criminal mischief is made up of different kinds of behaviors, the most common form of it on college and university campuses is vandalism. Schools want to create safe spaces for their community; thus, if a student is caught graffitiing a campus building, they will be subject to at least 20 days of community service, fines, restitution, and possible jail time.

Disorderly Conduct

In New Jersey, it is illegal to behave in public in certain ways, including making threats, fighting, or recklessly offending someone. For instance, any type of kicking, shoving, or screaming that disrupts the public or puts someone in physical danger is considered disorderly conduct and can result in a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Middlesex County Drug Offenses

When a student is accused of a drug offense in Middlesex County, law enforcement will base their charges on several factors, including:

  • Where the drug is classified on the state and federal controlled substance schedules.
  • The number of drugs found connected to the accused student.
  • The student's intention to distribute the drugs.

Drug offenses in Middlesex County carry up to $25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Middlesex County Harassment and Hazing Offenses

One of the most common offenses that occur on college and university campuses include harassment and hazing.

  • Harassment: a series of disturbing or irritating behaviors.
  • Hazing: endangering another person during sorority or fraternity initiations.

Some other offenses that fall under these umbrellas include cyber harassment, aggravated hazing, or electronically sending or requesting lewd or indecent materials. When a college or university in Middlesex County learns that a staff member or student is being harassed, hazed, or any of the other crimes under those terms, they will more than likely support law enforcement's investigation into it.

Middlesex County Sex Crimes

In New Jersey law, sex crimes is a term that represents a number of sexual activities, including rape or sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, and indecent exposure. Depending on the actual sex crime you are charged with, your prison sentence and fines could vary considerably. You will also be placed on the sex offender registry.

Title IX is a federal regulation that stipulates how colleges and universities that receive federal funding need to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct. If the school fails to follow its requirements, they can lose their federal funding. As such, if a student or faculty member is accused of a sex crime, the school may choose to perform a Title IX investigation alongside the criminal case.

Middlesex County Stalking Crimes

When a student is accused of repeatedly trying to follow a person, keeping a person in view, communicating with a person, interfering with a person's property, or harassing a person in a way that puts the person in fear for their safety or the safety of someone else, they are liable for stalking in Middlesex County. Given the nature of stalking cases, colleges and universities are more than likely to support law enforcement in these cases.

Middlesex County False Identification Offenses

False identification crimes often happen on college and university campuses. These types of crimes include impersonating someone, making false statements about one's identity, and flat-out identity theft.

Middlesex County Criminal Procedures

The moment you learn of a criminal accusation against you, it is important to contact an experienced criminal attorney. Not only will a member of the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team be able to guide you through the criminal proceedings, but they will also negotiate with the state on your behalf, hopefully having the case dropped, or the charges diminished.

In New Jersey, an accused student's case will follow the steps below:

  1. Pretrial procedures. Pretrial procedures include appearances such as arraignments and bail hearings.
  2. Burden of proof. The burden of proof generally rests on the prosecution for criminal offenses. The prosecution must present evidence that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the student is guilty of the crime alleged.
  3. Motion to dismiss. The defense can file a motion to dismiss if they believe the prosecution does not have ample evidence to prove their case.
  4. Trial. If the matter moves to a trial, it can be heard by a judge, a jury, or both. It will depend on the defense attorney's strategy. Either way, both sides will have the chance to present their cases, witnesses, and evidence and cross-examine one another. The court will make its decision of guilt based on the arguments presented.
  5. Sentencing. When a student is found guilty, the court will usually hold a second hearing to deliver the punishment they are going to impose on the student.

Criminal proceedings tend to take priority over school disciplinary proceedings. However, some schools may even wait to bring misconduct allegations against a student until the criminal proceedings have finished. Having an attorney in your corner from the get-go will ensure you are not suddenly being punished by the school because you prevailed in court or having the school jump on the disciplinary train because of being found guilty in court.

Middlesex County School Disciplinary Procedures

When a college or university in Middlesex County is notified of a complaint against a student, they will work to resolve the matter. This requires that they follow certain steps to ensure the victim, complainant, and accused students' rights are not infringed upon. The exact steps may change from school to school, but for the most part, the disciplinary process follows these steps:

  1. Complaint. The victim, another complainant, or even law enforcement will file a complaint of misconduct with the school's administration.
  2. Interview and investigation. The administration will appoint an investigator to interview the complainant and accused student about the matter. The investigator will also begin to gather relevant evidence and witness testimony to support their report.
  3. Pre-hearing conference. The investigator's report is delivered to the administration, which will then set up a pre-hearing conference. During this conference, the accused student is given the option to agree to the charges and the penalties the school wishes to impose.
  4. Hearing. If the accused student does not want to agree with the school - or wants to petition the complaint, a hearing will be scheduled. During this hearing, just like during the criminal proceedings, students and the complainant will both have the opportunity to present their arguments, including evidence and witness testimony, as well as cross-examine one another.
  5. Decisions. The hearing officer will review what they have heard and decide if the student is responsible for the accused misconduct. They will also inform the student of their punishment.
  6. Appeal. For the most part, the decision letter from the hearing officer will include steps to make an appeal on their decision.

Whatever your school's disciplinary process looks like, a competent and competitive criminal defense attorney can help you overcome them.

Premier Middlesex County, NJ School and Criminal Defense Attorney

Colleges and universities are supposed to protect their students, especially if they are being falsely accused of misconduct. Students should not have to worry about facing both a school disciplinary action and a criminal conviction. Moreover, it is not uncommon for schools to fail to provide their accused students with proper due process rights and due diligence. As such, students are forced to face negative consequences and possible jail time for issues that are far outside their control.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team knows the consequences of failing in either a school disciplinary action or a criminal defense. As such, they will work diligently to leverage their experience and skills to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Protect your personal freedoms and professional future. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online. Lento Law Firm can help.

​​​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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