College Student Crimes: How to Avoid a Criminal Conviction in College

College Student Crimes

As college students head back to school, jail is probably the last thing thing on their mind. Unfortunately, many students will find themselves in handcuffs this semester. Here’s a look at the top five college student crimes and what you should do if you do find yourself behind bars.

Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana is legal in a growing number of states, but Texas isn’t one of them. In Texas, it is still illegal to possess marijuana. While possession of drug paraphernalia is only a ticket, having a useable quantity can land you in jail for up to six months. Amounts as low as a third of a gram have been determined to be a usable quantity. As the quantity goes up, so does the punishment range.

Possession of Drug ParaphernaliaClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Possession of Marijuana Under Two OuncesClass B MisdemeanorUp to 180 days in Jail,$0-2,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 2-4 ozClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail,$0-4,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 4 oz to 5 lbsState Jail Felony180 days – 2 Years, State Jail, Up to $10,000 fine.
Possession of Marijuana 5-50 lbsThird Degree Felony2-10 Years Penitentiary, Up to $10,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 50-2000 lbsSecond Degree Felony2-20 Years Penitentiary, Up to $10,000 fine.
Possession of Marijuana 2000+ lbsFirst Degree Felony5-99 Years/Life,Up to $50,000 fine*

Theft 

Shoplifting is one of the most common offenses for which students are arrested. Almost every student accused of theft starts their story off the same way: “I wasn’t thinking, and I never thought I would get caught.”  A theft conviction is one of the worst convictions because it is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which could jeopardize scholarships, student loans, housing, and employment opportunities.

Theft Under $50Class C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Theft $50-500Class B MisdemeanorUp to 180 days in Jail,$0-2,000 fine
Theft $500-$1500Class A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail,$0-4,000 fine
Theft $1,500 – 20,000State Jail Felony180 days – 2 years, State Jail,Up to $10,000 fine
Theft $20, 000- 100,000Third Degree Felony2-10 Years Penitentiary,Up to $10,000 fine
Theft 100,000 – 200,000Second Degree Felony2-20 Years Penitentiary,Up to $10,000 fine
Theft over $200,000First Degree Felony5-99 Years/Life,Up to $10,000 fine

Assault  

In Texas, you can be charged with assault bodily injury if you hurt another person. If that person was even slightly injured, you could be looking at a year in jail. If you have that same fight with a peace officer, you could be facing 10 years in the penitentiary.

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Assault by ContactClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Assault Bodily InjuryClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, Up to $4,000 fine
Assault Public Servant – Bodily InjuryThird Degree Felony2-10 Years Penitentiary, Up to $10,000 fine
Aggravated Assault Deadly WeaponSecond Degree Felony

2-20 Years Penitentiary,

Up to $10,000 fine

Assault Public Servant – Deadly WeaponFirst Degree Felony

5-99 Years/Life,

Up to $10,000 fine

Driving While Intoxicated

Being arrested for DWI is a very common charge for college students. In Texas, you can be legally intoxicated with any level of alcohol in your system. That’s because the prosecutors have three ways to prove you were intoxicated:

1. Blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, or

2. Not normal mentally due to the introduction of alcohol into the body, or

3. Not normal physically due to the introduction of alcohol into the body.

The last two definitions mean a person could be intoxicated at almost any blood alcohol concentration. Additionally, if you have any detectable of alcohol in your system under the age of 21, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) even if you are not intoxicated. In Texas, penalty ranges for DWI can depend on your BAC., whether you have priors, and the age of the passengers in the vehicle.

Driving Under the InfluenceClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Driving While IntoxicatedClass B Misdemeanor3-180 days in Jail,Up to a $2,000 Fine
Driving While Intoxicated Blood Alcohol Concentration Equal to or Above .15Class A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail,Up to a $4,000 fine
Driving While Intoxicated (Second)Class A Misdemeanor30 days to 1 year in Jail, Up to a $4,000 fine
DWI with Child PassengerState Jail Felony180 days – 2 Years State Jail, Up to $10,000 fine
DWI Felony (Third or more)Third Degree Felony2-10 Years Penitentiary, Up to $10,000 fine

Criminal Trespass 

Students are often charged with criminal trespass. This can occur, for example, when a group of students decides to enter a restricted areas, explore abandoned buildings, or return to a location where they have been prohibited. 

Criminal TrespassClass B Misdemeanor3-180 days in Jail. Up to a $2,000 Fine
Criminal Trespass HabitationClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, $0-4,000 fine

How to Avoid a Conviction and Not Go to Jail

If you are arrested for any of these offenses, it’s important to contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney who has experience negotiating dismissals, no-bills and options that avoid a criminal conviction. Many first time offenders are eligible for diversion programs.

OutcomeConvictionCasesCan the Record Be Sealed?
DismissalNoAll types of casesExpunction Eligible
No BillNoFelony CasesExpunction Eligible
DIRECT Diversion ProgramNoDrug CasesExpunction Eligible
FAIP Diversion ProgramYesFelony DWI Cases No.
Veteran’s Diversion ProgramNo.VariesExpunction Eligible
DPP Diversion ProgramNo.First-time offenders including Theft and Possession of MarijuanaExpunction Eligible
Deferred AdjudicationNoAll misdemeanors, most feloniesExpunction on Class C offenses, Non-disclosures on everything else.

Contact us

Our team consists of Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists and former state and federal prosecutors with a proven track record of success. Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session.  During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese
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