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By Benson Varghese

Published on: August 21st, 2018 at 7:29 AM
Last Updated: September 10th, 2020 at 2:06 PM

As college students head back to school, jail is probably the last thing on their minds. Unfortunately, many students will end up in handcuffs this semester after making a poor decision. Here’s a look at the top five college student crimes and what you should do if you do find yourself behind bars.

1. Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana is legal in a growing number of states, but Texas isn’t one of them. In Texas, it is still illegal to possess marijuana. While possession of drug paraphernalia is only a ticket, having a useable quantity can land you in jail for up to six months. Amounts as low as a third of a gram have been determined to be a usable quantity. As the quantity goes up, so does the punishment range.

Possession of Drug ParaphernaliaClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Possession of Marijuana Under Two OuncesClass B MisdemeanorUp to 180 days in Jail, $0-2,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 2-4 ozClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, $0-4,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 4 oz to 5 lbsState Jail Felony180 days – 2 Years in State Jail, Up to $10,000 fine.
Possession of Marijuana 5-50 lbsThird Degree Felony2-10 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine
Possession of Marijuana 50-2000 lbsSecond Degree Felony2-20 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine.
Possession of Marijuana 2000+ lbsFirst Degree Felony5-99 Years/Life Prison, Up to $10,000 fine

2. Theft

Shoplifting is one of the most common offenses for which students are arrested. Almost every student accused of theft starts their story off the same way: “I wasn’t thinking, and I never thought I would get caught.”  A theft conviction is one of the worst convictions because it is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which could jeopardize scholarships, student loans, housing, and employment opportunities.

Theft Under $50Class C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Theft $50-500Class B MisdemeanorUp to 180 days in Jail, $0-2,000 fine
Theft $500-$1500Class A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, $0-4,000 fine
Theft $1,500 – 20,000State Jail Felony180 days – 2 years in State Jail, Up to $10,000 fine
Theft $20, 000- 100,000Third Degree Felony2-10 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine
Theft 100,000 – 200,000Second Degree Felony2-20 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine
Theft over $200,000First Degree Felony5-99 Years/Life Prison, Up to $10,000 fine

3. Assault

In Texas, you can be charged with assault bodily injury if you hurt another person. If that person was even slightly injured, you could be looking at a year in jail. If you have that same fight with a police officer, you could be facing up to 10 years in prison.

Assault by ContactClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Assault Bodily InjuryClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, Up to $4,000 fine
Assault Public Servant – Bodily InjuryThird Degree Felony2-10 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine
Aggravated Assault Deadly WeaponSecond Degree Felony

2-20 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine

Assault Public Servant – Deadly WeaponFirst Degree Felony

5-99 Years/Life Prison, Up to $10,000 fine

4. Driving While Intoxicated

Being arrested for DWI is a very common charge for college students, especially after a party, football game or a night out in a college town. In Texas, you can be legally intoxicated with any level of alcohol in your system. That’s because the prosecutors have three ways to prove you were intoxicated:

1. Blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, or

2. Not normal mentally due to the introduction of alcohol into the body, or

3. Not normal physically due to the introduction of alcohol into the body.

The last two definitions mean a person could be intoxicated at almost any blood alcohol concentration. Additionally, if you have any detectable of alcohol in your system under the age of 21, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) even if you are not intoxicated. In Texas, penalty ranges for DWI can depend on your BAC., whether you have priors, and the age of the passengers in the vehicle.

Driving Under the InfluenceClass C Misdemeanor$0-500 Fine
Driving While IntoxicatedClass B Misdemeanor3-180 days in Jail, Up to a $2,000 Fine
Driving While Intoxicated Blood Alcohol Concentration Equal to or Above .15Class A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, Up to a $4,000 fine
Driving While Intoxicated (Second)Class A Misdemeanor30 days to 1 year in Jail, Up to a $4,000 fine
DWI with Child PassengerState Jail Felony180 days – 2 Years State Jail, Up to $10,000 fine
DWI Felony (Third or more)Third Degree Felony2-10 Years Prison, Up to $10,000 fine

5. Criminal Trespass

Students are often charged with criminal trespass. This can occur, for example, when a group of students decides to enter a restricted areas, explore abandoned buildings, or return to a location where they have been prohibited. 

Criminal TrespassClass B Misdemeanor3-180 days in Jail, Up to a $2,000 Fine
Criminal Trespass HabitationClass A MisdemeanorUp to 1 year in Jail, $0-4,000 fine

How Can You Avoid a Conviction and Not Go to Jail?

If you are arrested for any of these college student crimes, it’s important to contact a seasoned criminal defense attorney who has experience negotiating dismissals, no-bills and options that avoid a criminal conviction. Many first time offenders are eligible for diversion programs.

OutcomeConvictionCasesCan the Record Be Sealed?
DismissalNoAll types of casesExpunction Eligible
No BillNoFelony CasesExpunction Eligible
DIRECT Diversion ProgramNoDrug CasesExpunction Eligible
FAIP Diversion ProgramYesFelony DWI Cases No.
Veteran’s Diversion ProgramNo.VariesExpunction Eligible
DPP Diversion ProgramNo.First-time offenders including Theft and Possession of MarijuanaExpunction Eligible
Deferred AdjudicationNoAll misdemeanors, most feloniesExpunction on Class C offenses, Non-disclosures on everything else.

Contact a Fort Worth Student Defense Attorney for Legal Help

It’s important realize that, in addition to criminal penalties, college student crimes can also lead to school disciplinary action. That’s why it’s imperative to contact a Fort Worth student defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our skilled attorneys will explain your rights and fight for the best possible outcome. Depending on the charge, first-time offenders may be able to avoid a conviction and keep their record clean. Our team is made up of highly skilled attorneys who have handled thousands of college student crimes and have a proven record of success. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation.

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Description: This law firm did an excellent job for my son. They helped keep me in the loop on upcoming court dates. One of his charges became one that he didn't end up having to face in court at all. He ended up getting time served on the rest. Overall I would recommend them, by name my son's lawyer Anna Summersett. Thank you all for a job well done!!

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