College Student Criminal Defense in Monmouth County

While colleges generally serve as refuges for students, it is essential to acknowledge that crimes are not uncommon on campuses in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Despite this, colleges and universities bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

In fulfilling this obligation, institutions have created policies aimed at finding, preventing, and disciplining individuals suspected of engaging in criminal activities. This involves active participation from faculty, staff, campus police, and private security services, all of whom are tasked with promptly reporting any events they become aware of or personally witness.

Interestingly, the likelihood of facing disciplinary action for similar offenses is actually higher on Monmouth County college or university campuses compared to off-campus settings. Furthermore, students accused of crimes on campus may face repercussions from both their school and law enforcement agencies.

Working with a criminal defense attorney from the moment you are suspected of a crime by your college or university is the only way to mitigate any negative consequences you may face – on campus and off. Lento Law Firm has years of experience helping students protect themselves against criminal and misconduct allegations. Call the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team at 888-535-3686 today for help, or schedule a consultation online.

Monmouth County Charges and School Discipline

Upon learning that a student might be involved in a campus crime, the school has the option to alert law enforcement. Law enforcement will review the report and decide whether there is enough for them to investigate the issue as well. If they discover probable cause while investigating, they will arrest the student and notify the state prosecutor of the charges.

Alternatively, in cases where law enforcement hears of the case first, they will notify the school. The school will interview the students involved and determine if there is enough to bring disciplinary action against them.

For example, if a visitor notices a student vandalizing the outside of the science building one night and calls the police, the police will notify the school of the allegation (or arrest). The school will decide if they want to bring disciplinary action against the student in addition to the criminal case. If, however, the visitor notified campus security, who subsequently notified the school administration of the accusation, the school would bring disciplinary action against the student. They would also decide if law enforcement should be informed. When law enforcement is informed, they will review the matter and determine if they should proceed with a criminal case against the student.

In either situation, it is essential that you contact an experienced attorney to prevent some seriously harsh consequences from affecting your entire future.

Consequences of Criminal Charges and School Discipline

Getting accused of misconduct can greatly impact your life. It does not matter if the accusation originates from the police or your school or if they both decide to pursue punishments. Not only will you be forced to endure an exhausting series of interviews, investigations, and hearings, but you will have to essentially put your life on hold until the matter is resolved.

Unfortunately, many students believe that criminal charges have more consequences than school disciplinary actions, but this is not always the case. In fact, school disciplinary actions can include suspension or expulsion. If you receive either of these punishments, they will be noted on your transcripts. When you apply for graduate school or decide to finish your education at a new university, it can be hard to get admitted because you will have to explain the punishments to each administration. This can influence the student's earning potential, job accessibility, and future relationships.

In addition to the practical effects of punishments on campus, both criminal charges and school disciplinary actions can have lasting effects on the student's mental and emotional well-being. Many students who are accused of a campus crime end up with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles.

Monmouth County Campus Crimes

Your behavior on campus can result in criminal charges because colleges and universities, even the private ones, do not have immunity from the New Jersey criminal code. Thus, if you are found guilty of a criminal offense on campus by the state, you could face jail or prison time and significant fines.

Below, we have listed some of the more common criminal offenses that occur on Monmouth County college or university campuses.

Alcohol and Tobacco Abuse

In New Jersey, it is illegal for a person under 21 to purchase, possess, or drink alcohol. Law enforcement and Monmouth County colleges and universities will support one another in bringing charges against students they suspect of committing this crime.

Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is one of those crimes in New Jersey that has several crimes nestled under it. The most common description of criminal mischief on campus is vandalism. If a student is caught breaking windows or deliberately damaging their dorm room because their on-campus residency was revoked, the state can charge them with criminal mischief. In Monmouth County, this charge can include a minimum of 20 days of community service, paying for the cost of repair or any other fines, and jail time.

Disorderly Conduct

Another common on-campus behavior that can sustain criminal charges is disorderly conduct. In New Jersey, it is illegal to intentionally act in a way that causes public inconvenience, irritation, or fear. So, under the law, any kind of public fighting, threats, or other violent actions are considered disorderly persons offenses.

If a student is found guilty of disorderly conduct, they face a maximum of 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.

Monmouth County Drug Offenses

Any behavior that involves drugs will likely be adjudicated by both law enforcement and the school's administration. To determine what offense to charge a student with, law enforcement will need to know:

  • Where the drug is classified on the state or federal controlled substance schedules.
  • How much was found connected to the student.
  • Whether the student intended to distribute the drug.

In Monmouth County, drug offenses could result in up to $25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Monmouth County Harassment and Hazing Offenses

Harassment and hazing are pervasive offenses that happen both on and off campus. As such, both actions have been criminalized in New Jersey in the hopes that it will deter future behaviors.

  • Harassment: a series of alarming or annoying behaviors.
  • Hazing: endangering another person during sorority or fraternity initiation processes.

There are other offenses that nestle into these crimes, like cyber harassment, threats, and electronically distributing or requesting lewd or indecent materials. Given the nature and potential severity of these crimes, colleges and universities will support any law enforcement assistance that will protect their campus community.

Monmouth County Sex Crimes

Sex crimes include criminal offenses like rape or sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, and indecent exposure. The punishment for any of these crimes will include fines, prison time, and even registration on the sex registry.

When sex crimes occur on campuses, they can cause a Title IX investigation. Title IX is a federal regulation that requires schools that receive federal funding to follow certain steps to resolve sexual misconduct on campus. Because schools could lose their federal funding if they fail to abide by the strict Title IX requirements, they will support any law enforcement investigation into the same matter.

Monmouth County Stalking Crimes

While people usually envision stalking as just following a victim around or leaving anonymous notes on their doorstep, New Jersey defines it as intentionally acting in a certain way towards a specific person that would put a reasonable person in fear for their safety or the safety of someone else, or that would cause a person to experience significant emotional distress.

Monmouth County False Identification Offenses

False identification crimes are another series of crimes that are quite common on college and university campuses in New Jersey. These types of crimes include:

  • Impersonating someone,
  • Making false statements about your identity, and
  • Identity theft.

Monmouth County Criminal Procedures

Most counties in New Jersey follow a similar procedural process for criminal offenses. Once a student is suspected of committing a crime, law enforcement will investigate and, if they find probable cause, notify the state prosecutor of the case.

Once the prosecutor charges the student with a criminal offense, the process will basically follow the steps listed below:

  1. Pretrial procedures. Procedures that occur before the actual trial include arraignments and bail hearings. These proceedings give both sides the opportunity to build their arguments.
  2. Burden of proof. To make their case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime they have been charged with.
  3. Motion to dismiss. Prior to the trial, the defense may believe that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to make their case. To prevent the student from suffering through any more stress or negative consequences, the defense attorney can file a motion for the court to dismiss the case.
  4. Trial. During the trial, both sides will have a chance to argue their cases, which includes presenting evidence and witness testimony, as well as cross-examining the other side.
  5. Court's decision. Once both sides have made their case, the court (the judge or a jury) will decide, based on the evidence presented, whether the student is guilty of the accused crime.
  6. Sentencing. In instances where the court finds the student guilty, they will hold another hearing to notify the student of their punishment.

While it does not seem fair, criminal convictions can often push your school to bring their own misconduct charges against you. However, you should not be forced to endure disciplinary action from the school just because the school feels pressure from the state, especially if the school is only bringing the accusations after seeing you were convicted by the state. The only way to ensure this does not happen is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Monmouth County School Disciplinary Procedures

School disciplinary procedures will follow different steps than a criminal proceeding will, and the specific steps will change from school to school. However, they will follow a similar process as the one listed below:

  1. Complaint. Either a complainant or law enforcement will notify the school's administration of the suspected misconduct.
  2. Interview and investigation. That administration office will appoint an investigator to meet with the complainant or law enforcement and the accused student. The investigator will decide if the accused misconduct falls within the scope of the school's code of conduct and if disciplinary action should be pursued.
  3. Pre-hearing conference. The investigator sends their report to the school's administration, who will set up pre-hearing conferences with the accused student and complainant. The purpose of these pre-hearing conferences is to see if the accused student will agree with the allegations and thus agree to the penalties the school wants to impose. If they do not agree with either one, the matter will be sent for a formal hearing.
  4. Hearing. Both parties will meet with a hearing officer to present their arguments, relevant evidence, and witness testimony. They will get the chance to cross-examine the other side's evidence and testimonies.
  5. Decisions. The hearing officer will review everything presented and conclude whether the student is responsible for the accused misconduct. And if so, which sanctions should be imposed on them?
  6. Appeal. If the student disagrees with the hearing panel's decision, they can appeal it.

Premier Monmouth County, NJ School and Criminal Defense Attorney

Though criminal proceedings typically take priority over school disciplinary proceedings, schools are supposed to protect the interests of their entire campus community, including the accused student. As such, accused students are allowed to work with an attorney, who will ensure the school follows its policies and does not infringe on the student's due process rights.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is keenly aware of the effects criminal charges and school disciplinary actions can have on a student's future. They will work tirelessly to leverage their experience to fight for your freedom. 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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