College is a unique time in your life. You’re exploring new things, figuring out who you are, and learning how to live independently. Students can quickly become so engrossed in the on-campus culture that adult consequences become an afterthought. Combined with the natural recklessness of youth, students may not consider the fact that those bad decisions can follow them post-graduation. This is especially problematic if you find yourself accused of a crime.
Columbia, MO is home to three great higher education institutions: (1) University of Missouri – Columbia (Mizzou); (2) Columbia College; and (3) Stephens College. If you’re facing criminal charges in Columbia, MO as a student, it’s important to understand your rights and how to protect yourself. The first step is finding a dedicated student defense attorney who will fight for you and your rights. To learn more about how a lawyer can help with student charges, reach out to us today.
There are many different scenarios that college students may find themselves in that can lead to criminal charges. Here are some of the most common issues we see:
You’re out with your friends and trying to get into a bar. The bouncer looks at your ID and says it’s fake. Now you’re facing charges of possessing a fake ID. In Missouri, possessing false identification (whether someone else’s or a forged ID) is a class A misdemeanor. This can result in significant fines, probation, or incarceration of up to one year in jail. Additionally, Missouri’s abuse-and-lose laws can add punishment of loss of your driver’s license for up to one year.
In Missouri, medical marijuana was legalized in 2018, and recreational possession for adults is on the ballot in November 2022. As it stands now, however, possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana in Missouri can result in a class D misdemeanor and a fine of up to $500. If a student is caught with over 10 grams of marijuana, or is charged with a second possession offense, they may be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and/or a year in jail. Felony charges may result if a student is caught in possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana or any other controlled substance. Needless to say, the stakes are high for the possession of marijuana charge.
If you’re caught drinking underage, you may be charged with a MIP. In Missouri, convictions for underage drinking can result in a suspension of your driver’s license and a fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses could lead to jail time and additional loss of license.
Driving under the influence is a serious offense that can result in jail time, loss of driving privileges, and expensive fines. In Missouri, if you’re caught driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI. If you are under 21 years old, however, the legal limit is .02%. This means that if you’ve had just one drink, you can be charged with a DUI. The first offense is considered a class B misdemeanor, which can result in up to six months in jail and a fine. Even if convicted of a first offense, you may also experience a loss of license. The penalties increase when someone has had prior DUIs. For example, with one prior conviction, someone accused of an additional DUI faces a minimum of 10 days of mandatory jail time; with two prior convictions, 30 days in jail is the minimum; with 3 convictions, 60 days in jail is the minimum; and four convictions will land you in jail for a minimum of two years.
Students accused of assault or sexual assault face serious charges that can have lifelong consequences. In Missouri, assault is defined as knowingly causing physical injury to another person. There are four degrees of assault in Missouri, all of which carry significant consequences. On the lower end, a Fourth-degree assault charge can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in jail. First-degree assault, on the other hand, is a felony charge that can result in being sentenced to prison for 5-15 years, or even up 30 years if the target of the assault is a “special victim.”
Sexual assault is defined as any unwanted sexual contact without consent. In Missouri, sexual assault is a felony charge that can result in 5-15 years in prison. In addition, a sexual assault conviction almost always requires the offender to register as a sex offender. It is important to contact a legal representative if you have been charged with any of these offenses. A skilled lawyer will build a case on your behalf and fight for your rights after a being charged as a student.
These are just a few of the legal issues college students may face in Columbia. If you have been charged with any of these crimes, it is important that you seek out the help of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They will be able to review the evidence and help you build a strong defense. If your case goes to trial, a Columbia criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate all possible defenses to fight for your rights in front of a judge and jury. This may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports, and working with expert testimony. The goal is to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed altogether. If you are convicted, a criminal defense attorney can also help you navigate the sentencing process and ensure that you receive a fair sentence.
A criminal conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, so it is important to take these charges seriously and seek out the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of Chris Miller has a proven track record of success in defending students in Columbia, MO facing all types of charges, from minor in possession to DUI to sexual assault. Contact us to learn more about how a lawyer can help with student charges and get started on building your defense.