I grew up just down the street from Boston University, on Crowninshield Road in Brookline, Mass. Every late August and early September, I would watch as thousands of “grown ups,” as I thought of them in those much younger years of my life, swarmed Commonwealth Avenue and North Brookline, in the annual ritual of a new academic year. (Those “grown ups,” of course, were students aged 18-22 years old, an index of just how much time has passed in my life.) At any rate, I never thought much more of what their lives consisted of, than studying. How near-sighted of me – but then again, I was maybe 10-15 years old.
Practicing law as a Boston criminal defense attorney over the past 25 years, I’ve seen a very different side of a typical university student’s life. It doesn’t just include classes, student clubs, and exams. It also includes several activities that can often lead to unexpected outcomes – and that can land a student before university disciplinary authorities, or even worse – arrested and charged with a variety of criminal offenses. Many of these are offenses that can jeopardize a young person’s college financial aid package, enrollment at school, and even their entire future. These offenses can include allegations of student rape and sexual assault, various Massachusetts drug offenses, property crimes such as larceny, as well as serious Massachusetts motor vehicle violations.
As a Massachusetts college student defense attorney, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of college and university students that are brought before university disciplinary boards for a variety of accusations. (Far more than what occurred when I was a student at Boston College.) As I said, most involve accusations of some kind of Massachusetts sex crime, or drug offenses. The majority of these students are living away from home for the first time, and have no idea of the consequences that can follow these accusations or disciplinary proceedings. Additionally, an almost equal number are here from foreign countries such as China, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, or Japan, and these young foreign students know even less about American culture than American students do, never mind state laws. As a Massachusetts foreign student criminal defense attorney, I’ve seen too many young people who have gotten into trouble with the law, especially when they least expected it.
My informal advice to both new students, returning students, and their parents: Massachusetts is a great place to send your son or daughter to college. But if they are accused by either university officials or a Police Department of any prohibited conduct or Massachusetts criminal offenses, do NOT “go it alone”: Retain an experienced Massachusetts college student defense attorney to represent him or her. That student’s whole future could hinge on whether or not the attorney you hire, is experienced in successfully defending Massachusetts college and university students accused of either violating a university’s Code of Student Conduct, or accused of any criminal conduct.