When students are accepted into college or university, they never expect to get into enough trouble that it warrants disciplinary action or criminal charges. Instead, they are focused on enjoying the freedom of being on their own, working on building relationships and trying to pass their classes. With all that pressure to succeed in every area of their life, it's no wonder some students succumb to the overwhelm and end up misbehaving.
Throughout New Jersey, college students are given a copy of their school's student handbook at the beginning of each year. The student handbook describes the conduct that the administration expects from their student. It also explains the consequences of violating those conduct rules. In addition, many schools incorporate a blanket proclamation that states that if the school is notified of its involvement in a criminal offense, the university has every right to discipline the student.
If you are accused of violating a federal, state, or local law, working with a skilled student defense attorney is key to mitigating any punishments you might receive, both on campus and criminally. Call Lento Law Firm today.
Crime Detection on New Jersey Campuses
New Jersey college campuses are devoted to helping their members enjoy a safe and secure environment, both on and off campus. To ensure their safety and well-being, colleges will rely on several different security measures, including:
- Security cameras
- Security or university police patrolling the campus
- Rape Aggression Defense training
- On-campus walking escorts
- Nightly ride requests
- Personal safety devices
- Shuttle services
- Emergency notification services
If a student is caught violating a federal, state, or local law by the university, they have every right to turn over the security footage or witness testimony to law enforcement. The same is true if law enforcement learns of the violation and notifies the university. Working with a student defense attorney will ensure you are sufficiently defended, both on campus and in a criminal proceeding.
New Jersey Colleges Can Impose Sanctions for Local, State, or Federal Violations
There are dozens of criminal offenses, if not hundreds, that a student could commit, which could compel law enforcement to the college's administration to refer them for disciplinary action and sanctions.
For instance, if a student is accused of committing an act that the federal legislation has deemed illegal, like possessing or delivering an illicit or controlled substance, engaging in a prohibited online scam, or using the internet to send a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, their university can adjudicate it as well.
The same is true if a student violates a New Jersey state law, like domestic violence or driving while intoxicated, or a local law, like failing to get a license for an auction.
At Seton Hall University, students are expected to follow the rules listed in the Student Code of Conduct. Under this policy, violations of any federal, state, or local law are considered a violation of the code of conduct. They go on to specify that a criminal charge or conviction is not necessary to invoke the violation of the policy. Meaning, that if Seton Hall University is notified of the action, but law enforcement is not, they can adjudicate it – and most likely, if they find enough evidence to support the allegation, they will notify law enforcement themselves.
If a student is found responsible for a federal, state, or local law violation by Seton Hall University, there are several sanctions the university may impose, including:
- Loss of privileges
- Educational or discretionary sanctions, like university-mandated service assignments or administrative housing reassignment.
- Probation I: a written reprimand that is for a designated period of time and describes more serious sanctions the student might invoke if they violate any university rule during the probation. This sanction could impact a student's housing selection.
- Probation II: the same as Probation I, except that it would impact a student's housing selection and ability to participate in other university activities, study abroad, and internship opportunities.
- Residence hall suspension
- Residence hall expulsion
- University suspension
- University of expulsion
- Revocation of admission
- Revocation of degree
- Withholding degree
Similarly, at Rutgers University, students are referred for disciplinary actions if their on or off-campus behavior affects university interests, including violations of local, state or federal law. Sanctions for disciplinary actions are supposed to educate a student on why their behavior is unacceptable. As such, the school uses a six-prong test to determine what sanctions to impose:
- The nature of the case.
- How comparable misconduct has been sanctioned before
- The student's past disciplinary history.
- Any worsening or extenuating circumstances.
- The student's developmental needs.
- The community's safety and well-being.
Once they review this test, they will likely impose two types of sanctions – an inactive sanction and an active sanction. Examples of inactive sanctions include:
- Formal reprimand
- Probation with conditions: this specifies a probation period and includes certain restrictions or requirements the student must meet during that period. When the term is complete, and the conditions met, the student will get back into good standing.
- Probation without conditions: explains the probation period, which, once it ends, the student will be back in good standing. No terms must be completed.
- Term disciplinary suspension: student is suspended for a particular period of time and then can return to the university as a student as long as they meet the academic requirements of their major.
- Conditional disciplinary suspension: student is suspended and must meet certain obligations before they can return as a student. While suspended, the student cannot earn credits at another institution with the purpose of transferring them to Rutgers.
- Loss of university housing
Additionally, active sanctions at Rutgers University include:
- Service hours
- Alternative resolution
- Educational sanctions: projects, assignments, or programs that are designed to educate the student about the ramifications of their actions.
- Restrictions or denial of university parking privileges
- Loss of university computer access
Whichever college or university you attend, having a student defense attorney to help negotiate with your university and advocate on your behalf is unparalleled. Attorney Lento will work tirelessly to gather evidence and witness testimony to refute these criminal accusations, both in court and on campus.
False Reports of Federal, State, and Local Law Violations on New Jersey College Campuses
All colleges and universities are keen to protect their communities. This is why they take adjudicating student conduct code violations so seriously. But if a student is falsely accused, not only will they immediately drop the accusations against that student, but they will also initiate them against the false reporter. For instance, Montclair State University requires that its students consistently maintain a high level of honesty. If they discover a student has falsely reported that a member of their community has violated a federal, state, or local law, they will ensure that the student is investigated and punished.
The same is true if law enforcement begins an investigation into an allegation of a student committing a federal, state, or local criminal offense. False incrimination is a serious offense, both federally and in the state of New Jersey.
Under federal law, if a person makes or presents to federal law enforcement or a member of the military or naval service an allegation they know to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent, they can be imprisoned for up to five years, subject to up to a $10,000 fine, or both.
Additionally, New Jersey law states that a person is guilty of false incrimination if—
- they intentionally gave false information, or
- caused someone else to give false information,
- to law enforcement
- with the hope of connecting another person to a crime.
False incrimination is automatically a disorderly person's offense, which is subject to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Many times, though, it is considered a third-degree crime, which could lead to up to three to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. But if the false information reported made it sound like the accused person committed a first- or second-degree criminal offense – then the false reporter's crime degree would be raised to a second-degree offense.
New Jersey law also states that someone can be charged with fictitious reporting if they made a report to law enforcement about another person for something they know didn't happen (or caused someone else to make such a report), or if they lied to someone about making a report about their conduct without really have any information about (or they pretended to have caused someone else to do that).
Fictitious reporting is usually a fourth-degree crime, which carries up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A student defense attorney will be able to create a strong case against such federal, state, and local law violations. Without a sufficient defense, a student accused of false incrimination or fictitious reporting could face the maximum sentence and fine – which would have serious effects on his future, such as mental health issues, issues securing employment, and a hard time maintaining relationships. Call Lento Law Firm today.
Defending Federal, State, or Local Law Violation Charges
Being accused of a federal, state, or local law violation is incredibly jarring for anyone, but especially for college students with little to no experience of the legal system. Unfortunately, the prosecution is keen to make examples of college students, which is why having an attorney in your corner from the moment you learn of these charges could mean the difference between having your charges dropped or the maximum sentence and lifelong consequences.
There are three burdens of proof that exist. Depending on the crime accused, the prosecution will have to ensure their evidence meets one of these levels. The most common burden of proof for criminal cases is beyond a reasonable doubt. That is, the prosecution must prove that there is no other reasonable explanation for the evidence they are presenting other than the explanation they are proposing.
If the prosecution cannot meet this burden, they cannot prove a student's guilt. Thus, you do not need to prove your innocence - your defense team just merely needs to show that there are other possible explanations for the evidence.
New Jersey Campus Federal, State, or Local Violations Disciplinary Procedures
As explained above, all colleges in New Jersey will refer students for disciplinary proceedings if they discover the student has allegedly committed a federal, state, or local criminal offense.
For example, at Kean University, students who are accused of committing a criminal offense will be notified of a Student Conduct Conference with the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). During this meeting, the OSC will interview the accused student, make them aware of the student hearing process, and give them an opportunity to admit or deny their liability in such a violation. After this meeting, the director of OSC can decide to dismiss the charges, impose a remedy or sanction, or initiate a Student Conduct Hearing.
Student Conduct Hearings at Kean University allow the student to present a defense to the conduct code violation accusations. Both the university and the student will be given a chance to present evidence and witness testimony to prove their sides of the story. The hearing officer will review the information and notify the student of their decision within seven business days.
If the student does not agree with the hearing officer's decision, they can appeal it. Appeals must be made within three days of receiving the decision and can only be made for specific reasons. The Appeals Board will review the appeal and decide if the original decision should be upheld, rejected, or amended in some way. Whatever their decision, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How a Qualified Student Defense Attorney Can Help
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm are highly qualified criminal defense attorneys who have spent large parts of their careers helping students navigate on-campus proceedings and criminal court hearings. As such, they have unmatched experience and understand how multifaceted and complex these proceedings can be. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation today or visit us online.