Fall is here and the new school year in Columbia is already in full swing. With Mizzou’s homecoming just around the corner, students are gearing up for a weekend of fun. However, along with all the excitement, there is also the potential for the festivities to go a little too far and potentially lead to unintended criminal charges.
While it’s understandable that people will want to enjoy themselves and have a good time during homecoming weekend, it’s also important to be aware of the possible risks of overindulging so you can avoid them. The following are five ways you and your friends can stay safe and out of legal trouble during Mizzou’s homecoming weekend.
Don’t Drink and Drive
This should be a no-brainer, but every year there are students who make the mistake of getting behind the wheel after drinking. Not only is driving drunk dangerous, but it’s also illegal. If you’re caught, you could be facing serious penalties, including jail time, a loss of your driver’s license, and steep fines.
If you plan on drinking during homecoming weekend, make sure to have a designated driver or take advantage of Columbia’s public transportation system. The Go COMO public transit buses will be running on their usual schedules, and the Tiger Line offers a shuttle service for Mizzou students free of charge to students with school IDs. Of course, there are always rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, which can be a safe and convenient option, especially if you plan on drinking.
Don’t Use a Fake ID
One of the most common criminal offenses that student face during homecoming weekend is using a fake ID. If you’re not of legal drinking age, resist the temptation to use a fake ID to get into bars or buy alcohol. The consequences of getting caught using a fake ID are significant and could include having to pay a fine, losing your driver’s license, or even spending time in jail.
In addition to the criminal penalties, if you’re caught using a fake ID, you could also face disciplinary action from the University of Missouri. So, if you’re not of legal drinking age, it’s just not worth the risk. Stick to non-alcoholic beverages or find other ways to enjoy yourself that don’t involve alcohol.
Walk Away from Confrontations
Homecoming weekend can sometimes get a little rowdy, especially on Saturday night. If you find yourself in the middle of a fight, it’s important to walk away and not engage. Getting into a physical altercation is a sure way to end up in jail, and you could also be facing assault charges. If you’re charged with assault, you could be placed on probation, required to pay a fine, or even spend time in jail.
In addition to the criminal penalties, getting involved in a fight could be another potential disciplinary violation that could lead to you being kicked out of school. So, if you see a fight breaking out, or you’re directly confronted, the best thing you can do is walk away and don’t get involved.
Avoid Possession of Marijuana Charges
While medical marijuana has been decriminalized in Missouri, recreational use is still illegal. If you’re found to be in possession of 10 grams or less, it is considered a misdemeanor, and you’ll likely have a fine to pay. Anything over that amount can result in jail time as well. If you’re caught with marijuana, you could be facing criminal charges and disciplinary action from the university. So, it’s best just to avoid it altogether.
Don’t Steal or Vandalize Property
Again, another common criminal offense that should be common sense is avoiding stealing or vandalizing property. Whether it’s a prank or dare, students tend to make bad decisions during homecoming weekend that can result in criminal charges. If you’re caught stealing or vandalizing property, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony, depending on the value of the property damaged. A theft conviction will stay on your criminal record and could make it difficult to find a job after graduation. So, just don’t do it.
Know Your Rights
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime during homecoming weekend, it’s important to seek the help of a student criminal defense lawyer who can protect your legal rights. An experienced lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case and advise you on the best course of action. They can also negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf and potentially get the charges reduced or even dismissed. A student criminal defense lawyer can also help if you’re facing disciplinary action from the university. They can represent you at your hearing and help ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact Us if You’re Charged with a Crime Over Homecoming Weekend
Homecoming should be a time to relax and have fun with friends. But, if you do find yourself facing criminal charges, it can quickly turn into a nightmare. The experienced student criminal defense lawyers at The Law Office of Chris Miller are here to help you if you or someone you know has been charged with a crime during homecoming weekend. We understand the unique challenges that students face and the impact a criminal conviction can have on their future. Contact us today for a free consultation.