College life: an exciting rite of passage, but not always risk-free

Young people in North Carolina and elsewhere across the country are often – and understandably – filled with passion and high hopes for the future. Youth is enviable. There is a “what’s next” aspect to it that is forever exciting and that avidly welcomes new opportunities.

That rings especially true for legions of recent high-school graduates and many of their slightly older peers who have commenced a next-step phase in life that marks them as young adults.

Namely, that is continued schooling in an environment where they exercise freedoms and autonomy never before experienced. That is a buoyant feeling for young people, and rightly so.

And it is certainly one that is experienced by a vast and diverse student demographic in Winston-Salem and other areas spanning the Triad community. A simple online search of academic institutions beyond high school that cater to students across north-central North Carolina readily reveals a broad list of possibilities. There are multiple universities that enroll scores of thousands of students. Those are supplemented by many colleges, technical schools, institutes and other venues.

Collectively, those learning centers offer seemingly unlimited opportunities for the young people who attend them.

Yet they also throw up this challenge: the potential to confront a harsh response from law enforcers who charge them with criminal misconduct.

Campus criminal charges often yield stringent, unforeseen penalties

Here’s a fact that many North Carolina college students likely don’t realize, as related by one authoritative legal source on student criminal activity and its potential consequences. That overview duly stresses that “possession of any drug for personal use is a misdemeanor offense.”

That means this: Hard and unanticipated exactions can come down on a student who engages even a single time in recreational marijuana use. He or she – along with friends – might view that activity as entirely harmless, or even be unaware that it carries punitive consequences.

State authorities hold a decidedly different view. They act aggressively in drug-linked matters, with it often being the case that the “facts” they gather lead to felony charges. That is commonly the case with charges like possession of an unlawful substance with intent to manufacture, sale or deliver, or a multitude of other alleged offenses.

Drug charges targeting a college student can yield adverse downsides across a broad front. Penalties can often bring results like these:

  • Probation or incarceration
  • Wide assortment of court costs, fees and fines
  • Permanent criminal record, with limited chance for record expungement
  • School discipline, including suspension and loss of student loans
  • Challenges linked with employment, housing, military service, professional licenses and more

Legions of young people make mistakes that merit a second chance and an outcome grounded in rehabilitation rather than mere punishment. A proven and empathetic defense legal team with a deep well of experience advocating for students facing criminal charges can work diligently to secure an optimal outcome in a given case.

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