5 Common College Student Offenses

There are particular offenses that commonly occur on college campuses or in relation to college students, such as the use of fake identification or underage drinking. In this blog, we will go over 5 common college-related offenses and their associated penalties.

Common College Student Offenses

Using Fake IDs

Many people, especially college students, who use fake identification do so for the purpose of purchasing alcohol or to get into bars or clubs. Virginia law criminalizes the use of a driver’s license that the individual in possession knows is false or has been revoked, suspended, altered, or canceled. Further, the act of lending one’s own identity for fraudulent use by another is also punishable in Virginia. Virginia permits law enforcement officers to confiscate fake identification cards and keep them until the court needs them for evidentiary purposes.

The possession of identification described above is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Those who manufacture or sell false identification may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. When actual government ID documents have been altered and used, some local jurisdictions charge felony offenses of uttering forged public records, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Drug/Marijuana Possession

The sentencing for drug possession depends on the schedule of the controlled substance. Schedule I and II substances include heroin, cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamine; Schedule III substances include codeine and other members of the codeine family (in addition to opioids); Schedule IV substances include Valium, Xanax, and other sedatives and tranquilizers; Schedule V substances include drugs such as cough medicine with codeine; and Schedule VI substances include materials that aren't drugs in the conventional sense but may be used as drugs, such as inhalants if there is evidence of abuse.

Penalties for the possession of the above substances are as follows:

  • Schedule I or II: Class 5 felony punishable by 1-10 years in prison, or jail up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • Schedule III: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • Schedule IV: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Schedule V: Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500
  • Schedule VI: Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250

Charges for the possession and distribution of cannabis differ and are as follows:

  • Less than 1 oz.: legal to possess, a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 if distributed or possessed with the intent to distribute
  • More than 1 oz but less than 5 pounds.: charged as possession with intent to distribute (though possession for personal use can be argued) and a Class 5 felony punishable by 1-10 years in prison or a jail sentence up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • More than 5 pounds: a felony carrying 5 to 30 years in prison

Driving While Intoxicated

Virginia’s DWI laws prohibit all motorists from driving or operating a motor vehicle in the following circumstances:

  • while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more;
  • with a blood concentration of .1 milligrams per liter or more of methamphetamine;
  • with a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of cocaine; or
  • with a blood concentration of .02 milligrams per liter or more of phencyclidine (PCP).

A driver is considered “under the influence” if the substances ingested impair the person’s ability to operate or drive a vehicle safely. As a result, in Virginia, a motorist can get a DWI even if the car wasn’t actually in motion but merely under operation by the person.

Certain circumstances, such as minor passengers and a high BAC can increase the penalties upon conviction. By statute, the sentencing for a first offense includes:

  • up to 1 year in jail;
  • completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), which costs $250-$300 and may include treatment or 20 hours of drug and alcohol classes;
  • fines of $250-$2,500, plus court costs; and
  • a 1-year license suspension.

Underage Drinking

A minor in Virginia may not buy or attempt to buy, possess, or consume alcohol. A violation of Virginia’s minor in possession laws is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a minimum fine of $500 and probation, including at least 50 hours of community service. When the violator is older than 18 years old, a judge will suspend the defendant's license for 6 months to 1 year. If the violator can show hardship, the judge may allow the use of a restricted license during the suspension period. The judge may also require that a violator be monitored by a local probation program in severe cases.

Note that in DWI cases, Virginia also has “zero tolerance” laws making it illegal for underage drivers (those under 21 years old) to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .02% or more.

Shoplifting

In Virginia, it is unlawful to engage in the following activity:

  • willfully concealing or taking possession of the goods or merchandise of any store;
  • altering the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise or transferring the goods from one container to another; or
  • counseling, assisting or abetting another in the performance of any of the above.

The charges and the penalties of a shoplifting charge depend on the cash value of the property involved. Property valued at $1,000 or more is considered grand larceny, which typically constitutes a felony punishable by 1-20 years in prison, or jail up to 12 months and/or a fine up to $2,500. Property valued at less than $1,000 is considered petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor punishable by incarceration for up to 1 year and/or a fine up to $2,500.

An offender may also be ordered to pay civil damages to store owners, and a merchant can sue for two times the unpaid retail value of the merchandise that the defendant allegedly took, with a minimum of $50. If the property is capable of being sold, the judgment is capped at $350.

Note that in most cases, individuals can defend against a shoplifting charge by claiming lack of intent, mistake of fact, or proving consent by the merchant.

Let Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law Help

If you have been charged with any of the above offenses, speak to an experienced lawyer immediately for legal representation. Especially if you are a college student, or if the alleged offense was committed on a college campus, a lawyer can better help you plan your defense strategy and argue for mitigated or dismissed charges. Let Attorney Andrew J. Cornick fight for your defense in Virginia.

Contact Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law to discuss your case in a free consultation today.

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