Although university students are no longer minors, they tend to have a clean criminal record. With a strong criminal defense, a first-time offender may receive lenient sentencing for most offenses. Students may also exhibit good behavior and have positive grades prior to a conviction. Character witnesses and reference letters can further help the accused with a jury and judge during sentencing.
Students enrolled at a university can commit a variety of crimes that all carry different punishments. At the low end, penalties for misdemeanors have fines that range from $500 to $4,000 and these cases avoid trial and jail. One of the most common misdemeanors for students is underage drinking which in Texas results in a fine, community service, education classes and loss of driver’s license. A DWI misdemeanor carries an additional punishment of going on a criminal record and is not allowed for expunction.
A felony in Texas is far more severe. A felony charge means the possibility of a jury trial with a possible punishment of prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Compared to other states, Texas has harsh punishments for drug possession and small amounts are considered a felony. Four penalty groups classify most controlled substances. Possession of marijuana is a felony in Texas for amounts greater than 4 oz.
Other state crimes considered a felony: burglary of a dorm room, aggravated sexual assault, improper relationship between educator and student, intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault.
Although rare, sometimes university students are faced with federal crimes. These offenses are required to follow federal sentencing guidelines which leads to a harsh punishment if convicted. For example, drug trafficking of large amounts of marijuana or other drugs are federal crimes which can lead to very harsh punishment guidelines, and probation is not an option.