Drug Charges on DC College Campuses

Facing a drug charge as a student in Washington, DC? Call and schedule a consultation with a DC student defense lawyer today to discuss your case and begin building a defense. Below is information on some of the most common substance abuse charges on campus and how students are most often caught with drugs. Call today to learn more.

Common Drug Related Charges On DC College Campuses

The most common substance related charges include underage possession of alcohol, underage consumption of alcohol, possession of illegal drugs, and distribution or possession with the intent to distribute drugs. The difference between these is a matter of severity.

Possession of alcohol by a minor is not often treated as a very serious offense especially if the student does not have a record of infractions by the university. Even though it is a violation of the student code of conduct to possess alcohol while underage, most universities will grant students a second chance in that situation and not impose the most serious possible sanctions of eviction from student housing, suspension or expulsion.

However, the more severe offenses, including manufacturing drugs, distributing drugs or possessing a sufficient quantity of drugs that the university assumes possession of those drugs was for distributing them, will be considered as more serious university infractions and can potentially result in suspension or expulsion.

Penalties For Drugs On Campus

The type of penalties that a student can face for substance related offenses depends on the severity of the allegations. Minor situations where a student may have been found to be in possession of small amounts of alcohol do not usually result in a student being expelled or suspended. The penalties for substance related offenses can range from reprimands to expulsions for more serious substance related offenses like drug distribution.

Searches in College Substance Abuse Cases

Unlike a person living in a house or an apartment outside a university campus, students living in campus housing have virtually no constitutional right to privacy in their dorm rooms. Dorm rooms are considered university property. In every dorm room contract that a student signs there is a clause saying that students are subject to searches of their rooms by university personnel, including resident advisors, faculty or university police. Often, this is how substance related allegations arise on college campuses.

The university police department has the ability to enter dorm rooms without the permission or even without advance knowledge of the resident of that dorm room. They have the ability to be able to search all locations within a dorm room, and can seize and charge people with anything found in the dorm room. This includes any illegal substances, including alcohol in the event that the resident of the dorm room is not of the age to possess alcohol. Also, it can include drug paraphernalia, such as scales, rolling papers, water pipes, bongs or distribution paraphernalia like baggies. The university can charge the resident, and sometimes all the residents of a dorm room, with substance related offenses.

Importance of a Student Defense Lawyer

A student defense attorney can help a student look at the evidence that the university plans to use in these situations. Additionally, because allegations of drug offenses are frequently accompanied by criminal charges in D.C. Superior Court, it is important to use the university hearing to gain additional information that can be of assistance in responding to criminal charges and vice versa, using the criminal charges to be able to gain information that can be helpful in student hearings and place a student in a more advantageous position.

Understanding the university process, including what kind of hearing the student might expect, how to be able to properly challenge evidence and how to schedule hearings in order to give the student the best possible advantage, is important to be able to give a student the highest chance of staying in school and not being subject to lifelong consequences.