What Are Common College Crimes?
As students transition into the independent world of college life, they may encounter a variety of challenges, not least of which may involve encounters with the law. While campus life is often depicted as a vibrant and enriching experience, it can also have a darker side where certain illegal activities are surprisingly common.
In this post, we will delve into six of the most frequent offenses reported on college campuses—aiming to shed light on this lesser-discussed aspect of university life. It’s crucial to be informed about these potential pitfalls, as even being charged with a crime can impact your life in unexpected ways, and a criminal conviction can bring heavy penalties, such as fines, license suspension, and incarceration.
While no two states will have identical crime statistics, six of the most common college crimes include:
- Alcohol-Related Crimes:
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported over 49% of full-time students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol in the past month, with over 27% of that group engaging in binge drinking behaviors. These behaviors can translate to certain illegal activities, including:
- Underage Drinking: According to Massachusetts state law, it is illegal for anyone under age 21 to possess or consume alcohol, buy or sell alcohol, use a fake ID to obtain alcohol, or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence. The state’s Zero Tolerance Law establishes the Blood Alcohol Concentration limit at 0.02% for minors stopped for operating a vehicle under the influence, and a conviction for violating the state’s minor in possession law is a misdemeanor.
- Disorderly Conduct: While public intoxication is not illegal in Massachusetts, disorderly conduct is. This charge is often levied against those who are seen to be disturbing the peace, which can include being noisy, upsetting or provoking others, fighting, or other public outbursts.
- Drug Abuse Violations:
With college campuses reporting an increase in the amount of drug use in their student bodies in recent years, it’s no wonder that drug-related crimes are one of the most common offenses documented. Drugs such as marijuana, Adderall, MDMA, cocaine, LSD, tranquilizers, and other
It’s important to note that less than 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use and up to 10 ounces in a home is not penalized in Massachusetts. However, possession of more than 1 ounce could lead to a misdemeanor conviction, with penalties potentially including 6 months in jail and $500 in fines for a first offense. Subsequent offenses lead to harsher penalties. Additionally, possession of a prescribed medication is not illegal. However, if you are in possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription, it could result in a misdemeanor. Possession of cocaine, on the other hand, is punishable by one year in prison for a first offense and a possible $1,000 fine, and subsequent offenses can lead to a two-year prison sentence and up to a $2,000 fine.
- Theft Crimes
Burglary and larceny are two distinct types of property crimes that are often confused due to their similarities. However, they fundamentally differ in their legal definitions and the circumstances under which they are committed.
Burglary is often defined as involving unlawfully entering a building or inhabitable structure with the intent to commit a crime. Larceny is simply the act of unlawfully taking and carrying away someone else’s personal property with the intent to permanently deprive them of it—this doesn’t require that the offender break into a building or structure. Larceny can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property taken.
To convict someone of larceny in Massachusetts, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant took and carried away property;
- The property was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant;
- The defendant took that property from someone who owned or possessed it; and
- The defendant intended to deprive the victim of the property permanently.
- Sexual Assault
Sexual assault on college campuses encompasses an array of offenses that violate an individual’s personal and sexual autonomy. One such offense is rape, which involves forced sexual intercourse without the victim’s consent.
Attempted rape is another offense, which includes situations where rape was intended but not completed. Fondling, a crime that involves touching the body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without consent, is also considered a form of sexual assault—it might also be considered indecent assault and battery in Massachusetts.
All these crimes can occur under various circumstances, such as during parties, within dorm rooms, or even in secluded campus areas. If convicted, sexual assault will potentially land the offender in prison and likely on a sex offender registry.
Assault and aggravated assault are two prevalent offenses on college campuses, each differing significantly in terms of severity and implications. Assault, in its basic form, is an intentional act that causes another person to fear that they are about to suffer physical harm. This can involve a threat of harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to carry out the threat.
On the other hand, aggravated assault is a more severe form of assault. It involves an assault that is committed with a deadly weapon or with the intent to commit a serious harm or crime, such as rape. Assault is often considered a misdemeanor, whereas aggravated assault is a felony.
Let Us Defend Your Case
While college students experience a new level of freedom as they leave home, they might face situations when they have unknowingly committed a crime or are not aware of the criminal level of their actions. If you or your child are facing charges for campus-related offenses, contact Brad Bailey Law immediately for legal representation.
Call our team today at (617) 500-0252 or reach out online to schedule your consultation.