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College Student Defense

Do I need a lawyer if my college student is accused of a crime?

By February 22, 2021April 6th, 2022No Comments

College is a time of freedom and independence for many students. However, with that independence comes an increased potential to run up against the law.

If your university student has been accused of a crime, you might be completely freaked out. That’s understandable –  being arrested or charged with a crime is a scary experience for everyone.

But the good news is that you don’t need to face this alone. There are attorneys who can help protect your student and make sure their rights are respected.

In some cases, the student’s university will pursue separate disciplinary charges in addition to the legal charges. For this reason, we recommend hiring a student defense attorney to help guide you through this process.

Why a student defense attorney?

A defense attorney can help you navigate the bail process, prepare for their court dates, and mount a defense. A good defense attorney can negotiate a plea bargain to have your student’s sentence reduced, and in the best case scenario, even get your student’s charges dropped (or get them acquitted if their case goes to trial).

However, for many college students, criminal defense is only the first step. You may also need to defend your student’s academic future against the university’s disciplinary charges, which is why we recommend hiring a student defense attorney who can help your child with every step of the process.

University Discipline vs. Criminal Arrests

Just because your student has been arrested and charged with a crime doesn’t necessarily mean they will also face charges at their school.

The school will likely find out one way or another, as many schools have agreements with local law enforcement to notify them if one of their students is arrested.

However, whether the university pursues disciplinary charges depends on the individual school’s policies.

Another uncertain variable is what the consequences will be if your student is disciplined by the university. This likely depends on the severity of the crime, but disciplinary charges could potentially threaten a number of your student’s university privileges:

  • Academic standing
  • Student housing
  • Financial aid
  • Scholarships
  • Enrollment

These charges could even have an effect on your child’s future employment.

How a Student Defense Attorney Can Help

University disciplinary hearings are very different from criminal court cases. Your student isn’t in any legal trouble with their university – the school administration doesn’t have the power to fine them or put them in prison.

However, the consequences can still be very serious, and it’s important that your student’s rights are protected throughout the disciplinary process.

A student defense attorney will have experience navigating this process that a criminal defense attorney likely won’t.

Student defense attorneys can help you and your student go over the university’s materials, prepare any documentation or statements, and prevent your student from saying or doing something incriminating.

We know how university administrators think, so we can help make sure your student isn’t being treated unfairly, and secure the best outcome for them at the end of the process.

Contact a Student Defense Attorney in DC Today

If your college student has been charged with a crime and their university is bringing up parallel disciplinary charges, DC Student Defense can guide your child through the process and help them protect their academic future. Contact us today for a free consultation.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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