Alcohol and Underage Drinking on New Jersey Campuses
New Jersey college life can be a good life, indeed some of the best years of one's life. But not when criminal charges and school disciplinary proceedings intervene. And one of the most likely ways in which New Jersey college and university students can face criminal charges and school discipline is around alcohol possession and underage drinking. New Jersey state laws, like laws in other states, closely regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol. Local ordinances may also do so, further restricting alcohol sales and serving. Some New Jersey locales, especially in South Jersey, are even dry towns. New Jersey colleges and universities, like Rutgers University, have their own student codes of conduct limiting or barring student alcohol possession or consumption. Yet an NJ.com article reports drinking, indeed underage drinking, at nearly every New Jersey four-year school, with thousands of annual arrests. Don't underestimate the risk: criminal charges and school discipline for underage drinking or other alcohol offenses can spoil your New Jersey college or university education. Retain New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team if you face criminal charges or student discipline at your New Jersey school relating to an alcohol offense. Fight to preserve your education, record, and reputation.
Detecting Drinking on New Jersey Campuses
The reason why so many New Jersey college and university students get caught for alcohol-related crimes has a lot to do with the highly regulated and closely policed nature of college and university campuses. New Jersey schools put a lot of money, time, and effort into ensuring that they offer a safe and orderly academic environment. Federal and state laws require that they do so. Campuses at New Jersey schools like Rutgers, Stockton University, Montclair State University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology form and maintain their own police forces to enforce both state and local laws and school student codes of conduct. Surveillance cameras can be everywhere on the college campus, and instructors, advisors, teaching assistants, resident assistants, custodians, and other school employees and officials may all be on the lookout for underage drinking, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and similar alcohol-related misconduct and crimes. Don't be surprised if you face alcohol-related criminal charges plus school discipline at your New Jersey college or university campus if you were in any way involved in parties, tailgates, or other activities where students were drinking alcohol. Just make the best of those criminal and school proceedings by retaining New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento now.
New Jersey Alcohol and Underage Drinking Crimes
New Jersey, like other states, has several criminal laws that can implicate college and university students who possess or consume alcohol. Local prosecutors in the criminal courts can charge New Jersey students with these on-campus or off-campus alcohol crimes.
Underage Drinking Crimes Charges Against New Jersey Students
New Jersey Statute 2C:33-15 authorizes criminal charges against a student or other person under the age of 21 who buys, possesses, or drinks alcoholic beverages. You don't have to drink the alcohol to face the charge; purchase or possession is enough. This crime is what local prosecutors call minor in possession or an MIP. Minor in possession is a common crime that local prosecutors charge on and around New Jersey college campuses. But just because the crime is common, and you may have seen your fellow students plead guilty to the criminal charges, doesn't mean that a conviction bears no serious consequences. While prosecutors and judges have certain discretion, MIP convictions can carry jail time, a fine of $500 or more, community service, and other penalties. Convictions for alcohol abuse can also carry even more serious collateral consequences, well beyond the discipline that your New Jersey college or university may also impose. Don't plead guilty without first fully understanding your rights and obligations. Retain New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento for your best outcome to underage drinking charges.
Other Drinking Crimes Charged Against New Jersey Students
Drinking can lead to charges for other campus crimes, whether the drinking student is underage or of lawful age to imbibe. New Jersey Statute 2C:33-2 authorizes criminal charges for disorderly conduct. Alcohol is such a common ingredient to disorderly conduct that the crime often goes by “drunk and disorderly.” Fighting, threats, screaming, yelling at someone, or making other loud noises, and throwing or breaking things can all result in disorderly person charges, with penalties of up to thirty days in jail and a $500 fine. New Jersey Statute 2C:17-3 also authorizes charges for criminal mischief, otherwise known as vandalism, another common result of drunken escapades. Simple criminal mischief may carry modest penalties, but damaging a university research facility can result in years of imprisonment and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
False Identification Crimes Charged Against New Jersey Students
Drinking may tempt underage college and university students to present false adult identification implying a lawful age to purchase and consume alcohol. New Jersey Statute 2C:21-17 authorizes criminal charges for false identification or impersonation crimes. And the crime reaches more than using another's driver's license or school ID card. False statements about one's identity, whether or not involving identity cards, can also lead to criminal charges, especially when connected to attempts to purchase alcohol.
Defending New Jersey Student Drinking Crime Charges
Fortunately, help is available if you are a New Jersey college or university student facing criminal charges relating to alcohol. Don't take a criminal charge as if it were a criminal conviction. A charge only initiates a criminal proceeding. If you retain skilled and experienced New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense counsel, then the criminal charge must ordinarily proceed through several stages before it stands any chance of reaching a conviction. An aggressive and effective defense minimizes your likelihood of suffering a criminal conviction. New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento often pursues these defense strategies in New Jersey criminal proceedings, depending on the unique facts and circumstances of the defendant's charge:
- Ensuring the defendant's prompt release after arraignment without restrictive bond terms so that the defendant can continue classes and other schoolwork while assisting in the criminal defense
- Using preliminary examination to challenge the sufficiency of the prosecution's charge and case, to advocate for early involuntary dismissal, and to negotiate for voluntary dismissal
- Obtaining evidence exonerating the defendant and mitigating the charge to present in pretrial conferences and at trial to advocate for charge reduction and dismissal
- Invoking New Jersey's Pretrial Intervention (PTI) or Pretrial Diversion program to remove the proceeding from criminal court and avoid further prosecution and risk of conviction
- Challenging police actions violating the defendant's constitutional rights, including moving to suppress evidence for the involuntary dismissal or voluntary abandonment of all charges
- Showing at trial that the prosecution has failed to prove all elements of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, through cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, and direct examination of defense witnesses
- Filing post-trial motions and appeals for relief from any adverse results, showing prosecution or witness misconduct and errors by the court
Winning criminal defense is possible, even probable, in many cases. Prosecutors and courts can, with skilled defense advocacy, see the justice in relieving earnest college and university students from criminal penalties and records for school issues like underage drinking. New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has the special skills and experience for your best outcome to New Jersey criminal charges, strategically deploying these criminal procedures.
New Jersey College and University Alcohol Policies
Criminal charges aren't the drinking student's only problem. A school disciplinary proceeding can have just as serious of an impact, or an even more serious impact, on the student's schooling. New Jersey colleges and universities can't jail a student for violating a school alcohol policy. But they can suspend or expel the student, causing all kinds of educational disruption and harm. Rutgers University's Alcohol and Drug Policy, for instance, provides that when an underage student gets charged with drinking or goes to the hospital intoxicated, the Office of Student Conduct initiates school procedures. The student must meet with disciplinary officials, agree to an educational intervention, complete a class or comprehensive assessment, write a paper, and complete any other requirement the Office imposes, or face a formal proceeding that could lead to suspension. The student will not be able to register for classes until completing that process. Second offenses go straight to formal proceedings for more serious discipline. The university's Student Code of Conduct defines other alcohol offenses beyond underage drinking, including possessing alcohol anywhere the campus does not permit it. New Jersey's Institute of Technology and other state and private colleges and universities have similar student codes of conduct closely regulating possession, consumption, and furnishing of alcohol.
New Jersey Campus Disciplinary Procedures
If you receive your New Jersey college or university's notice of disciplinary charges relating to an alcohol offense, don't give up hope or ignore the disciplinary charges. Your school may delay your disciplinary proceeding until after any criminal case concludes. But whether you face a criminal charge or not, your school may proceed against you in its administrative proceedings on campus, following its own school disciplinary procedures. Take that administrative proceeding most seriously, every bit as seriously as you would take a court's criminal charges. Remember that the impact on your education of a school disciplinary proceeding can be much more severe than the impact of off-campus court criminal charges. Your school may keep you from enrolling in classes, suspend you, and even expel you if you do not retain a skilled and experienced student defense attorney to invoke your school's protective procedures. Those disciplinary procedures likely include the following protections, similar to those offered at New Jersey's Montclair State University:
- Your right to retain an independent defense attorney of your own choosing to advise and assist you during the school's disciplinary proceeding without the school's interference
- Detailed notice of the disciplinary charges, including what you allegedly did wrong and what school policy it violated so that you and your retained attorney can evaluate the charges
- Your right to receive and review the school's evidence against you and to read, comment on, and rebut the school's disciplinary investigation report with your retained attorney's assistance
- Your opportunity to attend early informal resolution conferences with the disciplinary official or investigator, where you can present your retained attorney's information and analysis toward dismissal of all charges
- Formal hearing procedures for contested charges, where you and your retained attorney can attend to question adverse witnesses and present your own defense witnesses and evidence
- Appeal rights for any adverse decisions, where your retained attorney can identify any bias, conflict of interest, or other misconduct of school investigators and officials, and other errors in the disciplinary proceedings, to advocate for dismissal of all charges
Even where all formal channels fail, attorney Lento has often been able to negotiate the dismissed student's school reinstatement and dismissal of all charges, as alternative special relief through school oversight channels.
New Jersey Student Defense Representation
New Jersey student discipline and criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is a premier advocate who has successfully represented hundreds of college and university students nationwide against all kinds of misconduct charges, including those involving alcohol and underage drinking. Attorney Lento has the rare ability to combine criminal defense skills with very different student discipline defense experience. Attorney Lento knows how to address charges and discipline arising out of fraternity or sorority events or other misconduct alleged under a general student code of conduct. Trust attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm team to provide winning defense services in both the criminal courts and college or university's disciplinary proceedings. A highly skilled and experienced New Jersey attorney for both student discipline defense and criminal defense is your answer to fight for your New Jersey college or university education. Protect your education and future. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento now at 888.535.3686 or go online for help.