Guarding Against Potential Damage to Your Future
When it comes to prosecuting college and high school students, there is a recent trend that has been developing in schools across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It used to be that when a young person got in trouble on school grounds, the school dealt with it as an internal private matter. The problem remained in-house, so to speak. Yes, there might be serious consequences for the student, but the school handled it on its own grounds through its own disciplinary policy. Whether it was vandalism, theft, bullying, drugs, or schoolyard fighting, a school might mete out punishments or work on the problem with the student.
But, despite all the penalties and corrective measures, there was an underlying principle that, even though a student might face severe consequences at school, their future must not be destroyed. This is because referring all school misbehavior to the criminal justice system and having students taken away in handcuffs to police stations and courts and even jail could result in permanent punishment. Punishment that goes on for the rest of their lives. This is because, once a student gets a criminal record, this could forever and all time result, in their
- Not getting into the college of their choice;
- If they already are in college, not getting into graduate school to further their education;
- No longer being eligible for financial aid so having to drop out of college;
- Again and again being refused employment and having their dreams and goals of what they wanted to accomplish in life disappear
Yes, students need to understand that actions have consequences and a price must be paid for bad behavior. They can’t expect to behave badly and always walk away scot-free. So have them face the music, endure the consequence, learn the lesson, and then move ahead. But for those in their teens or early twenties who commit a one-time act of poor judgment or foolishness or just not thinking . . . and have them pay for it into their fifties and sixties and seventies is extreme to the point of being bizarre. This is because it doesn’t just ruin the student’s future, but it ruins the future of America as we good law-abiding citizen can never take advantage of the talents of a student with a once-bright future who never became a doctor or a job-creating business person or government worker or useful scientist because of the one dumb action they took as, let’s say, a nineteen-year old college sophomore or did some underage drinking.
With the almost overwhelming multitude of colleges and places of higher education in Massachusetts that now routinely pass off their disciplinary infractions to the police, there is more of a need than ever for effective attorneys who understand the unique issues of young people. Young people often act foolishly on impulse in a way that they will not once they mature. Scientific studies have shown that the brains of young people are different than adults, that they will change and therefore should not be permanently written-off before they have even reached maturity.
An effective attorney experienced in representing students will use a variety of methods to do everything possible to prevent them from getting a criminal record that could extinguish their once-bright futures before they ever get a chance to launch them. There are ways to creatively assist a student who is charged with a crime from getting a criminal record through diversion programs and alternatives to a criminal record. Such alternatives could consist of participating in programs, getting counseling, doing community service or an assortment of other methods. There was a group of college students who threw a rowdy noisy destructive party with illegal kegs of beer who avoided criminal records by performing a great deal of community service; a college student charged with reckless driving and some other motor vehicle offenses who got his case dismissed after having to take a brains-at-risk course that links the choices made behind the wheel to the devastating effect of traumatic brain injuries they might cause others or suffer themselves; and the student shoplifter who had the case dismissed by attending a special shoplifting lecture.
An effective attorney who understands and then zealously champions young people is a must for students who, despite the fact that they may have had a one-time incident of using poor judgment, can still turn their lives around rather than having their still bright futures extinguished with a permanent criminal record.
Are you a student in Massachusetts or parent of a student facing criminal charges? Contact us today for a free legal consultation.