College Student Criminal Defense in Ocean County

Although colleges are often seen as a safe haven for students, it doesn't mean students can't get punished for criminal activity. However, crimes are committed on college campuses in Ocean County every day. Educational institutions have established protocols to identify, prevent, and penalize individuals suspected of committing crimes. One of these rules includes reporting any incidents to campus police, private security services, and other faculty members.

It is important to note that the likelihood of facing charges for a crime on an Ocean County college or university campus is higher than for the same offense committed off campus. Additionally, when a student is accused of a crime on campus, they may face consequences from both the school and law enforcement.

If you are a college student in this situation, it is crucial to contact our Criminal Defense Team. The Lento Law Firm defends college students against criminal allegations and can help you deal with a criminal charge related to your college or university. To schedule a consultation, contact us at 888-535-3686 or fill out our contact form.

Criminal Charges and School Discipline for College Students in Ocean County

When a student is suspected of committing a crime on campus, the school may contact law enforcement. Police officers will then assess the evidence and determine if an arrest is warranted. If so, they will detain the student and inform the state prosecutor of the charges.

Conversely, if law enforcement becomes aware of a criminal act involving a student, they may inform the school. The school will then determine if disciplinary measures should be taken.

For example, if a student is accused of sexually assaulting a non-student in their dorm room and the victim reports it to the police, the school may be notified. The school will then decide if disciplinary action is necessary. On the other hand, if a witness reports the student to the school for sexual assault, the school may choose to involve the police. The police will then determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.

To avoid facing consequences from both the school and the county, seek the guidance of The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team. We're familiar with both legal processes and school disciplinary procedures and can provide you with a strong defense.

What Are the Consequences of Criminal Charges and School Discipline in Ocean County?

Facing accusations of misconduct on campus can be daunting. These allegations, whether from the police, the school, or both, can severely impact your personal and academic life. Many students erroneously believe that school disciplinary actions are less consequential than criminal charges and convictions. However, this isn't always true.

School disciplinary measures can restrict your ability to enroll in certain classes participate in extracurricular activities, and may even lead to your removal from on-campus housing. More severely, they can result in suspension or expulsion.

Being suspended or expelled from a college or university carries long-term repercussions. It can severely affect your self-esteem and mental health. If you wish to pursue further education at another institution, the new school will inquire about the reasons behind your suspension or expulsion. Such penalties can obstruct your career path, preventing you from getting the professional opportunities you're after and ultimately leading to lower earning potential and psychological distress.

On-Campus Crimes in Ocean County

Your actions on campus can lead to criminal charges, as colleges and universities are not exempt from the New Jersey criminal code. Therefore, if you commit a crime on campus, you could potentially face imprisonment. Some of the most common on-campus crimes include:

Alcohol and Tobacco Use

Under New Jersey law, it's illegal for anyone under 21 to buy, possess, or consume alcohol. New Jersey also raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products and electronic smoking devices to 21.

Getting charged with underage use of alcohol can lead to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If it's your first offense, the Lento Law Firm Team may be able to argue the charge down and help minimize the consequences. Even if it's not your first offense, you should contact our offices so we can assist you.

Criminal Mischief

Damaging campus property may result in charges of criminal mischief. Under New Jersey law, criminal mischief purposely or knowingly damages or tampering with tangible property to the point that it endangers a person or property. Examples might be stealing signs from campus or tagging school property with graffiti.

Commonly, offenders are required to cover the costs of repairs. More severe cases of criminal mischief, however, can lead to imprisonment or thousands of dollars in fines.

Disorderly Persons Offense

In New Jersey, inappropriate conduct such as fighting, threatening, or causing public disturbances through actions like screaming or shoving can lead to a disorderly persons offense. Convictions can result in a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Drug Offenses in Ocean County

Drug offenses are determined by the classification of the drug under state and federal schedules. The severity of the charges depends on the drug's classification, the quantity seized, the intent to distribute, and other case specifics. Penalties can include several years in prison and fines up to $25,000. Marijuana possession can also lead to severe penalties, including 18 months in jail and fines of up to $15,000.

Harassment and Hazing Offenses

New Jersey law criminalizes not only harassment, which includes persistent alarming or annoying behaviors, but also hazing activities, particularly during sorority or fraternity initiations. This law extends to cyber harassment, threats, and sending or requesting obscene materials. Educational institutions in Ocean County will involve local authorities if they identify instances of harassment or hazing among students or staff.

In some cases, hazing is so harmful that it is classified as aggravated hazing. New Jersey law considers it hazing when someone has knowingly or recklessly organized, promoted, facilitated, or engaged in conduct that placed another person in danger of bodily injury, and it's in connection with the initiation of members into a student organization. It becomes aggravated hazing when a serious injury to another person occurs as a result of the hazing.

Sex Crimes

Sexual offenses in Ocean County, such as rape, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, and indecent exposure, can lead to lengthy imprisonments, substantial fines, and mandatory registration on the sex offender registry. Colleges and universities are required to conduct a Title IX investigation for allegations involving students or staff and cooperate with law enforcement in these investigations.

Stalking Crimes

New Jersey defines stalking as repeated behaviors that include following, observing, or communicating with an individual, interfering with their property, or any act that causes an individual to fear for their safety or the safety of others.

False Identification Offenses

On college campuses, crimes related to false identification are prevalent. This includes impersonation, providing false information about one's identity, and identity theft. Each of these actions is a criminal offense under New Jersey law.

Ocean County Criminal Procedures

As soon as you are charged with a crime, you should contact the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team. Our offices have helped hundreds of students around New Jersey who have been accused of crimes on-campus that were related to their colleges and universities.

Typically, when a student in New Jersey is accused of a criminal offense, the case will proceed as follows:

  1. Pretrial procedures: After charges are filed, the student must participate in pretrial activities such as arraignments and bail hearings. These procedures allow both the prosecution and defense to prepare their cases before the trial.
  2. Burden of proof: In most criminal cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. This means the state is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime.
  3. Motion to dismiss: If the defense determines that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before the trial begins, they may file a motion to dismiss. This motion, if granted, would end the case early, saving court resources.
  4. Trial: During the trial, both the prosecution and defense present their arguments, witnesses, and evidence. They also have the opportunity to cross-examine each other's witnesses and evidence. After both sides have finished, the court will review all information presented and deliver a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
  5. Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty, a subsequent session will determine the appropriate sentence.

It's crucial to recognize the potential impact a criminal conviction may have on your academic standing. If you are found guilty of a criminal offense, particularly one that occurred on campus or involved the school, the institution may also seek disciplinary action. Engaging our Criminal Defense Team helps ensure that you are not unjustly penalized by both the judicial system and your educational institution.

Disciplinary Procedures for Colleges and Universities

When accused of a criminal act, the police and prosecutors may inform your college or university about the incident. If the alleged event occurred on campus or relates to the school in some way, the school may choose to start additional disciplinary actions against you. The specific nature of these proceedings depends on your educational institution.

Generally, the disciplinary process in schools unfolds as follows:

  1. Complaint: The relevant office receives a notification about the alleged misconduct. It's usually the office of the Dean of Students that receives external complaints.
  2. Interview and investigation: This office informs both the complainant and the accused student about the complaint and assigns an investigator to delve deeper into the matter.
  3. Pre-hearing conference: The investigator compiles a report based on the findings from the interviews. If this university office isn't the right one to handle the matter, it submits the complaint to the relevant office, which then organizes pre-hearing conferences. These meetings determine if the accused student is willing to admit to the wrongdoing or accept the suggested penalties, thus avoiding a formal hearing.
  4. Hearing: If the accused student disputes the suggested sanctions or the allegations themselves, a hearing is convened where both parties can argue their cases and cross-examine each other.
  5. Decision: After hearing both sides, the hearing officer or panel deliberates and makes a decision regarding the student's responsibility for the misconduct. If found responsible, the student faces sanctions ranging from a formal reprimand to suspension or expulsion, based on the school's code of conduct.
  6. Appeal: Along with the decision, the student is provided with instructions on how to appeal the decision if they choose to do so.

While criminal proceedings generally take priority, educational institutions still have a duty to protect their community members from the accused student. They must also safeguard the rights of the accused by notifying them of the proceedings, allowing for legal representation, and conducting a thorough and fair investigation to ensure that accusations are substantiated.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Students in Ocean County

When a student commits a crime on campus, the repercussions can go beyond campus disciplinary actions to include criminal charges. These charges may lead to fines, incarceration, and a permanent criminal record that can impact their future for years.

Moreover, colleges and universities typically take on-campus crimes very seriously. Unlike high school, where the consequences of misconduct might only extend to detention or a short suspension, the disciplinary actions in college are much more severe. These can include loss of campus housing, termination of school-provided medical insurance and services, and accelerated loan repayment obligations.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team understands the stakes of losing a school disciplinary action or a criminal case. We're committed to securing the best possible outcome for your situation. Protect your personal freedoms and professional future by calling 888-535-3686 today or scheduling a consultation via our online form. The Lento Law Firm is here to assist you.

​​​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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