For most young adults, college is a time of freedom and independence. Unfortunately, this newfound freedom has been known to result in some bad choices. From driving while intoxicated to possession of a controlled substance, arrests on or near Sam Houston State University campus are commonplace in Walker County.
Learning your child has been arrested is unsettling, regardless of the circumstances. These feelings can compound quickly if the arrest occurred far from your current location and you are unable to help directly. Thankfully, you have options. Whether your child is a minor facing the prospect of juvenile justice, or if they are a college student dealing with an adult arrest, you can assist them with everything from obtaining legal counsel to getting out of jail pending their trial.
You do not have to deal with this difficult situation on your own. Attorney Doug Murphy is an experienced and board-certified DWI and criminal defense attorney with extensive experience fighting for college students and juveniles throughout Texas. To learn more, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.
Common Criminal Offenses for Sam Houston State Students
Tens of thousands of Texas teenagers are arrested on criminal charges or referred to juvenile prosecutors each year. These offenses vary, from misdemeanors that are unlikely to lead to jail to felonies that could cost a person the rest of their life behind bars. Out of the hundreds of potential criminal offenses that exist under Texas state law, there are a few that are more likely than others to result in a criminal conviction for college students in Walker County. These include:
- Driving while intoxicated. A DWI is one of the most common serious offenses a person in college can be charged with. Not only does it risk jail time, but it can also cost your child the ability to drive.
- Possession of a controlled substance. Another common offense is possession of a controlled substance. By far the most common type of arrest in these cases involves the possession of small amounts of marijuana. While this is a misdemeanor, any drug conviction can alter your child's life forever. A felony arrest is even more significant.
- Possession of a dangerous drug. Some substances require a prescription even though they are not a controlled substance under federal law. Possessing a dangerous drug without a prescription is another common offense on college campuses.
- Assault. Tempers flaring is another common occurrence particularly with young people. This can lead to an arrest for assault.
Although these offenses are relatively minor compared to some of the other offenses that exist in the State of Texas, any criminal conviction can turn your child's life upside down. Help them protect their rights and their future by contacting a board-certified expert in criminal defense law right away.
The Impact of an Arrest in College
The potential consequences following an arrest can split into two different paths for a Sam Houston State student. The primary consequences following an arrest are the potential penalties that could come with a criminal conviction. However, there is also the possibility of direct consequences to a college student's academic career if their school also takes disciplinary action.
When it comes to the criminal offense your child faces, the potential penalties depend on the exact crime they are charged with. However, these offenses generally involve the possibility of both jail time and fines. Often, first-time offenders will be able to avoid jail following a criminal conviction. A defendant facing serious charges or a repeat offender may find that the prosecution feels strongly about jail time, however. There are other penalties that can come with a conviction outside of jail time and fines. The court could also order your child to pay restitution if they damage another person's property, and they can be saddled with the cost of the state prosecuting the offense. There are other conditions that could apply, particularly if your child has some of their sentence suspended. The end result is the potential for lasting consequences.
In addition to the loss of their freedom, your child could also face major setbacks in their educational or professional career. A criminal arrest or conviction could fall under the purview of your child's school. For example, Sam Houston State University's Code of Student Conduct and Discipline allows for student discipline upon “Commission of an act that would constitute an offense under appropriate federal, state, or municipal law.”
The wording of this section is important, as it does not require a criminal conviction for the school to take action against your son or daughter. Any act that could constitute a criminal offense is enough for the school to begin the disciplinary process immediately. This means your child could face parallel investigations from the university and the police at the same time.
This can lead to serious challenges in mounting a defense. As a student, your child does not have the same rights during a disciplinary hearing as they would at trial. Their failure to speak or defend themselves can be used against them. But if they do defend themselves, anything they say could be used as evidence during their criminal trial.
Dealing with student discipline and criminal issues at the same time is never easy. The right attorney can help your child navigate this difficult situation and secure the best possible outcome to their situation.
Steps to Take if your Son or Daughter was Arrested in Walker County TX
Because your child was the person arrested, you cannot clear this up for them. They will be ultimately responsible for following through on taking the steps necessary to resolve their criminal issues. However, there are some steps you can take to help them make the most out of the process. Consider the following steps below.
- Remain calm. It is easy to become panicked when you learn of your child's arrest, particularly if they have never been in trouble before. That said, panicking will never be beneficial. Remain calm and composed to ensure you are able to help them to the best of your ability.
- Seek legal counsel. Your child's best defense starts and ends with hiring the right criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can assist with every aspect of your child's case. Be sure to ask your attorney if they are also capable of representing your child during any school disciplinary hearings. If not, your attorney will likely have someone they can refer you to.
- Contact a bondsmen. Your attorney might be able to help secure your child's release without the need for a bail bond. If not, you will need to make arrangements with a bondsmen to put up money in exchange for your child's release.
- Understand your child's rights. After an arrest, you should never argue with the police. It is also important to impress upon your child that they should not either. While it is in their best interest to comply with the commands of law enforcement, you can help your child understand that they do not have to discuss their case with the police at any point. Ensuring your child understands their legal rights is vital.
- Ensure your child follows up. There are many different deadlines and steps that come with a criminal case. You can help by following up with your child to ensure they remain in contact with their attorney throughout the process. If they are ultimately convicted, your child will need to continue following the required steps ordered by the court.
The steps you take after learning of your son or daughter's arrest can have a major impact on their case. With the right support, you can assist them with getting through this difficult time to the best of their ability. Dealing with criminal charges is never easy, but doing so without a support system only makes things more difficult. By supporting your child, you increase the chances of a positive outcome in their case.
Rely on the Guidance of a Board-Certified Expert in Criminal Defense Law
College can be a complicated take for most young people. The combination of new freedoms, new responsibilities, and a still-developing brain can result in your child finding themselves in some bad situations. Despite that, they enjoy the same constitutional rights as anyone else. If your child is facing criminal charges, it is important that they understand their rights and do not take them for granted.
Following an arrest, your child's choice of legal counsel can be one of the most impactful decisions they make in their life. The right attorney can lead to an acquittal or even dismissed charged, while the wrong attorney could result in life-long consequences. In Texas, only the most experienced defense attorneys can hold themselves out to be experts in criminal law. This distinction is one of the best ways to identify prospective legal counsel for your child.
Attorney Doug Murphy is a board-certified expert in both DWI and criminal defense law. In fact, he is one of only two attorneys in the State of Texas with that distinction. To learn how his unparalleled skill and experience can work for your child's defense, schedule a consultation with the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. today.