Each year at the end of June, scores of students just a few weeks removed from high school graduation arrive at Penn State for “Freshman Summer.” A high percentage of those enrolled in the second summer session at Penn State are freshman, because some students are accepted to the main campus at University Park as freshman only if they are willing to start classes in June. Not surprisingly, temptation awaits these young people, who generally are away from adult supervision for the first time in their lives.
As a criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania, it should come as no surprise that most of my clients are Penn State students. One pattern I have noticed is that the most likely time for a student to be charged with a marijuana possession or underage drinking is during freshman year, especially during the student’s first semester at Penn State. By the time these incoming freshman arrive in Happy Valley, they have viewed countless movies glorifying drunk and debaucherous college behavior. These teenagers are left with the impression that they can do whatever they want, because their parents are not around to greet them at the door when they come home reeking of booze at 2:00 a.m. Likewise, they believe that they can fire up a bong in their dorm room with no fear of consequences.
It does not take long for some Penn State freshman to learn the hard way that college movies are far different from college reality. In the real world, you can be charged with underage drinking, public drunkenness or possession of marijuana. During Freshman Summer move-in weekend of one summer, I received a call from parents just two hours after dropping off their son at the dorms. Before these parents were even home, their son had already been caught smoking weed in the dorms and was facing charges of small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
The good news is that it is not the end of the world for most Penn State students who find themselves in legal trouble. If the student is charged with a summary offense
or misdemeanor and has no prior record, a skilled attorney can often find a way for the student to avoid having a criminal record, or at least ameliorate the damages. That is why it is of the utmost to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a criminal offense or you know that you are under investigation for a criminal offense.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense lawyer in State College Pennsylvania, who limits his practice exclusively to criminal law. Most of his clients are Penn State students. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/