At some point after your college student’s arrest and court litigation the case will finally be ready to close. In every state there are a multitude of different ways a criminal case can be disposed of. But generally a criminal case must either go to trial or settle – unless your lawyer is able to get the charges thrown out entirely. The vast majority of cases will be settled. In the case of a college student who is a first time offender with an alcohol or drug violation the case very likely will be eligible for a pretrial diversion or a first time offender program which will ultimately end in a dismissal of the charges after a course of counseling and a certain time period. You can read here more about these type of programs and their benefit for college students.
No matter when and how your child’s case is court case closed you should understand the following issues. First, does my child have anything further they are required to do i.e. probation, counseling, driving school, etc. Many times a case is closed with a plea to probation. This means the court portion of the case is closed, but the child will still be on probation and required to appear and do certain things with relation to this probation. Also, many times there are court costs and fees payable to the court system and if these are not paid these will hurt the student’s credit. These seemingly small details should be carefully monitored by the student, the parent and the lawyer even though they appear not to be as important as going to court, for example.
Second, how is this case resolution going to effect my child’s future. For example, if a college student is convicted of certain crimes it may effect financial aid (see post here for further information) and a conviction may result in the child becoming a “convicted felon” – a designation that will follow him for the rest of his life and may limit many opportunities. Even if there is no guilty plea or conviction certain charges will still impact the application process for graduate school or professional licenses.
Lastly, you should find out whether the case and court records are eligible for sealing or expunging from the public record which could benefit your college student in the future. Every state has very different rules about sealing and expunging criminal records and you should consult an attorney about the availability of this procedure in your child’s case. You can read further about this process generally here.
Hopefully, navigating your college student’s arrest will go smoothly and end beneficially for your child and family. Nothing can be more stressful for a parent than worrying about a child who has been arrested.