Criminal Defense of Students

Student Crimes Require An Expert Defense

When a young adult enrolled in college is charged with a criminal offense, it is a serious matter, whether it is for DWI, underage drinking, drug possession or sexual assault. If convicted of a crime, students can face difficulties in the job market upon graduation and can be affected for life. In addition to a state or federal sentence, students can face additional consequences by a university: loss of scholarship, suspension, expulsion, inability to compete in athletics and more.

A Criminal Law Firm Focused on Students & Families

Attorney Fred Stangl

Over our history, Chappell, Lanehart & Stangl P.C has guided students and parents through the criminal justice process. We are typically the first recommendation by student counselors, coaches and professors at Texas Tech. We have also helped defend students at South Plains College and Lubbock Christian University.

Chuck Lanehart and Fred Stangl are frequently in trial defending students charged with a variety of crimes. From the beginning, we are focused on getting charges dropped to students released on bail to conducting a thorough pre-trial investigation. After a successful verdict, we keep working to expunge criminal records from showing in background reports and job interviews.

Types of Student Crimes

Most crimes committed by university students are classified as a misdemeanor in Texas. Misdemeanors include DWI, possession of drug paraphernalia, minor in possession of alcohol, minor consuming alcohol, theft, burglary of a vehicle, harassment, failure to pay a ticket and more.

Sexual assault, sexual harassment and similar crimes are becoming a more common concern for college students. With Title IX, sexual harassment and violence are prohibited at any school that receives federal funding, which means most colleges and universities in Texas. Negative publicity has led to more universities pursuing these charges. Prosecutors are further motivated to set an example and pursue harsh penalties for sex crimes.

Broader legal definitions of sexual assault are another factor. Alcohol and drugs at a college party can affect legal consent and result in a charge of sexual assault. According to Texas law, consent must be given by:

  • A person who is mentally capable of understanding the activity
  • A person who is old enough to legally agree to sex (17 and older)
  • A person who has not been intoxicated or drugged against their will
  • A person who is fully conscious and aware of the activity
  • A person who has not been threatened or coerced

Often, students wait to tell parents until a warrant for arrest has been issued due to embarrassment or thinking the problem will go away. Chappell, Lanehart & Stangl recommends getting a criminal defense lawyer as soon as an accusation is known to allow for adequate time to research and prepare a case.

Sentencing & Punishment

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.

Hire An Experienced Criminal Attorney

At Chappell, Lanehart and Stangl, we are experienced with all student offenses and will seek the best outcome of a case. We take on all classes of misdemeanors and felonies students may face, because we are dedicated to helping students in legal trouble.

Real Clients. Real Results.

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Assault of a Child Case Dismissed

Hi Chuck. Many years ago you helped my daughter, when she was student teaching. She was (wrongfully) accused of grabbing and hurting a child, if you remember. Today, she is a teacher in Coppell, TX and recently received full funding for a reading program. She has three kids and a great husband. Just wanted to let you know and say thank you!

Mother of Client, Accused of Assault of a Child

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Warrant for Arrest Dropped

Mr. Lanehart, I'm not sure if my daughter sent you a note of thanks, but I wanted to make sure you recieved one from her dad. As a favor from our family friend, you successfully negotiated two speeding tickets with warrants down to a fine. My daughter was too embarrassed to let her parents know about her tickets. And being a college student, was usually broke and didn't to pay them. It wasn't until we received a warrant for her arrest that she finally fessed up to the tickets. You were instrumental in getting her fines reduced and warrant dropped. So thank you for your services.

Father of Client

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Alcohol Violation

This letter is long overdue, but I wanted to thank you for representing me in my case to dismiss my ticket. It was a huge relief when I received the confirmation that you were able to dismiss the ticket and clear my record. I am very pleased that my uncle suggested that I contact you when I needed help. Even two years later, I remember how nervous I was when I realized I needed to speak with an attorney, but all of my worries were unnecessary because you were so kind and took care of everything.
Thank you again for everything. I truly appreciate the work you did in representing me.

Client Enrolled in College Case Dismissed in Justice Court

Three Former Texas Tech Football Players Get Community Service

A trio of former Texas Tech football players will see their burglary and gun charges dropped thanks to diversions. Allegedly committing a second degree felony, the players could have received a fine of $10,000 and up to twenty years in prison.

Chuck Lanehart, Castaneda’s attorney, said his client’s agreement includes 24 hours of community service and taking part in drug offender and theft intervention programs. If completed, Castaneda’s charges will be expunged from public record.

Texas Tech Students Charged with Credit Card Violations

A former Texas Tech football player was accused of two counts of the state jail felony offense of Credit/Debit Card Abuse and a single count of the Class A misdemeanor offense of Possession/Use of an Altered Driver’s License.

The charges were later dropped and Jace Amaro went on to play professionally in the NFL.

Bail Reduced from $1.5 Million to $65,000

A Texas Tech student charged with sexual assault and kidnapping was released on bail. Watson is accused of aggravated sexual assault of an adult, aggravated kidnapping, possession of child pornography, improper photography, and retaliation in connection with an alleged “date-rape” encounter with a fellow Texas Tech student May 6. He maintains his innocence, according to his attorneys, Chuck Lanehart and Laurie Key of Lubbock. He has no prior criminal history. A Lubbock County grand jury is expected to consider the case later this month.

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