Almost every week in my criminal defense practice, I meet young men and women (and their anxious parents) who come to see me because they have been arrested. Usually, the charges are a direct result of poor judgment. Interestingly, many of these young clients are college and university students, frequently earning high grades and scholarships.
The arrests are particularly serious for young people, many of whom find that they have jeopardized everything – their ability to remain in school, scholarships and their futures. Depending on the charges and the results of their cases, they may fail to be accepted at graduate schools and will most certainly be faced with questions about the arrest and disposition of their cases when applying to regulatory agencies in virtually any profession (i.e., the Bar, medical boards, licensing agencies – state and Federal – healthcare, real estate, insurance, banking, finance, law enforcement, pilots, teaching – to name a few).
I have represented students who were initially denied admission to the Bar and to other professions for having cheated in college; for a series of traffic violations (not only the more serious traffic related charges such a DUI or reckless driving); suspension from college for drug possession (including possession of a small amount of marijuana or illegal possession of prescription medication to “help alertness for studying and concentration”).
Stupidity is a common cause of young people being arrested. I have represented many good kids who were arrested for vehicular manslaughter, urinating in public, fighting in clubs, using drugs in public restrooms, having sex in public areas, jumping on baggage conveyor belts at airports, unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons (usually ill concealed), for smoking marijuana in vehicles, college dorms, fraternity houses, on beaches, or at construction sites; and for “smarting off” to police officers – most of whom are all too eager to arrest anyone who fails to show them the respect they think they deserve.
I have represented kids who were arrested for stealing from department stores, convenience stores, friends’ homes; for using stolen credit cards; using fake ID’s (including driver licenses) to gain admission into nightclubs; having drugs when they were screened at airports; wearing “brass knuckle” belt buckles and belt buckles with knives in them; for public drunkenness; causing disturbances on airplanes; “running” toll booths; for graffiti; keying cars; for posting nude photos of fellow students on the Internet – and on and on…
After forty years of doing my best to “save” students and young people from the dire, often permanent consequences of being arrested, I urge them, including my five children, to stay away from trouble.
Use good judgment. Resist the temptation to “go along” with friends who are exercising less than mature, good sense. Nothing good happens in the early morning hours in nightclubs and on the street. Be mindful about your future and ask yourself if the risk of an arrest is worth the conduct you are contemplating.