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How Criminal Convictions Can Impact A College Student’s Life

Criminal charges and convictions weigh heavily on every person that faces them, none more so than college students. This can be devastating to a young student with a bright future ahead. 

The impact of a criminal charge is even more devastating on college students on foreign exchange or student visas. The added immigration consequences on top of the legal troubles can be too overwhelming to bear.

Besides facing certain legal consequences at present, their criminal record will carry the charge for at least five years. This significantly impacts their chances at employment no matter what industry they choose to work in.

Facing a Criminal Charge As a College Student

Students under the age of 18 will face juvenile court, and their criminal records will be sealed once they are 21. However, most college students are above 18 years old and are legally recognized as adults. For this reason, they will face the full consequences of their actions in the local criminal court.

Some common crimes committed by college students include:

  • Underage drinking
  • Drug possession or distribution
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Violating open container laws
  • Getting caught with a fake ID
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • Cybercrimes
  • Rape
  • Theft

Understanding the Academic and Legal Consequences of Criminal Charges

Some of the charges mentioned above are only misdemeanors, but any conviction of a crime can have serious consequences academically and legally. On the academic end, the severity of the consequences depends on the nature of the misdemeanor. Specific policies differ across educational institutions, but misdemeanor charges generally lead to the following disciplinary actions:

  • Probation, suspension, or expulsion from the academic institution or athlete program
  • Loss of financial aid
  • Loss of academic or athletic scholarship
  • Difficulty applying for housing
  • Loss of student visa
  • Other fines and penalties

Legally, a misdemeanor can result in expensive fines, community service, mandatory counseling, or time in jail. Misdemeanors are also public record, so any future employers performing a background check will be able to find out about the conviction. Many employers across all industries don’t hire employees with a criminal record, especially if it’s a felony.

Getting Legal Protection for College Students Facing Criminal Charges

When a college student is accused of or charged with a crime, local law enforcement and the school administration conduct separate investigations. The student may be cleared by the university but still face a criminal conviction. On the other hand, they may be expelled from school even if the local court finds them not guilty.

Criminal attorneys typically represent college students facing criminal charges and can help ensure the best legal outcome for their future. Some can get charges dismissed before the arraignment, so the arrest will not even show up on the student’s record.

Attorneys can build a strong defense to dismiss the charges within the local court system and through the school administration. These efforts can protect students from a damaging criminal record that they will have to explain to hiring managers and employers throughout their careers.


Being charged with a misdemeanor or felony can significantly damage a college student’s present and future prospects. From a lost scholarship to jail time, criminal consequences will echo through a person’s life. Thankfully, an experienced criminal lawyer can help limit these consequences and can minimize the impact of a conviction on a student’s future.

If you’re looking for a capable criminal defense lawyer in Boston, The Fernandez Firm is an expert on all types of criminal defense and an industry expert in all matters related to criminal law. If you are a college student being investigated by campus or local police, contact us today for a free consultation about your case.