Arrests on DC College Campuses

Even if you are arrested off campus, if you are a college student in DC you may still be subject to penalties from your college or university. The following is more on what this could mean for you and why you should consult with a DC student defense attorney as soon as possible for arrests on DC college campuses.

Impact of an Arrest for College Students

Most universities in Washington D.C. make violating local DC laws an offense under their student code of conduct. Even if a student is alleged to have committed a crime that didn’t involve other university students or even take place on campus, a university can still move forward on a student judicial hearing based on off campus criminal violations.

As an example, if a student is at an event and is accused of hitting someone, local metropolitan police department officers would arrest the student, book, and process them through the normal metropolitan police department procedures. The student gets a court date to appear in front of a judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Even though the action did not involve another student and didn’t take place on campus, if the university is notified or finds out about that arrest, the student could receive a notice of a disciplinary proceeding by the university judicial board on the grounds that the student committed a violation of a local DC law.

The student would have a criminal proceeding before the Superior Court of DC and a student judicial proceeding by the university judicial board. Any arrest can result in a student having to deal with both systems. The criminal side of the situation can result in possible jail time, fines, and a criminal record while the student judicial hearing can result in punishment by the university including disciplinary probation, suspension, or even expulsion.

What if the Arrest Was on Campus?

On campus arrests can result in a student facing both criminal charges by the US Attorney’s Office and student disciplinary hearings by the university. In the event that a student is alleged to have committed a crime on campus, the student could face university disciplinary hearings based on the alleged criminal conduct and on any other violations of the student code of conduct that took place on campus, even if those allegations weren’t specifically charged by the criminal courts.

Interaction Between Campus and Local Police

Campus police are given powers under DC law to investigate on campus crimes and to make arrests. Their jurisdiction however doesn’t extend outside of their department’s university campus. In some situations, university police departments get assistance from DC’s metropolitan police department. That happens when the investigation requires more resources or more police officers than are available to the university police.

In more intensive charges such as certain sexual assault allegations or certain drug crimes, campus police work in conjunction with the metropolitan police department in investigating and arresting students. However, campus police departments are deputized with full police powers under DC law under the supervision of the DC Chief of Police. That means campus police do have the ability to conduct searches of university property including dorm rooms and they can arrest, book, and process university students who are alleged to have committed crimes on campus.

Will Your School Find Out if You’re Arrested Off Campus?

In most situations, the university won’t find out if a student is arrested by local police on charges that took place off campus and don’t involve other university students. In some situations local police notify a student’s university of an arrest, but that is at the discretion of the police officer who makes the arrest.

Local police have no obligation to notify a student’s university if they make an arrest that does not involve the university. In some situations, universities can find out about off campus arrests but those situations are typically limited to students who are already on, for example, disciplinary probation for some other violation of the student code of conduct.

Outside of that, it’s rare for universities to find out about students who have been arrested in situations that do not involve the university.

How a Student Defense Attorney Can Help

A student defense attorney can advise a student client about how their criminal case can affect their status as a university student. An attorney can also help a client make informed decisions about their actions and how they can either help them or hurt them in the university judicial proceedings when it comes to how their case is resolved on the criminal side of their matter.

A student attorney begins representation immediately after a student has been arrested. That means that an attorney does not need to wait for the student to receive a notice from the university that they are facing a student judicial hearing to advise a student client on how to prepare for any possible consequences a student might face as a result of a pending criminal charge.