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Boston Criminal Defense Law Blog

Impaired driving laws being questioned

Legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts has brought additional legal questions. A state commission review of the state's marijuana legalization law could result in actions that can affect college students charged with OUI and underage drinking.

The OUI Commission was formed in accordance with the legalization law. It was assigned to study issues concerning driving while under the influence of drugs. These include the types of available drug testing, driver civil liberties, admissibility of evidence in court, police burdens and testing costs.

Students face serious underage drinking penalties

Law enforcement for underage drinking does not stop on the campus grounds. College students charged with OUI and underage drinking offenses face serious consequences that can last throughout their educational or professional lives.

It is illegal for anyone under 21-years-old to drink alcoholic beverages in Massachusetts. Misrepresenting age or engaging in the age-old attempt of falsifying identification carries a $300 fine. State law has criminal penalties for the sale or delivery of alcoholic to minor under 21, which include a fine up to $2,000 and 6-months imprisonment.

What are the consequences of hazing?

College fraternity and sororities initiation rites have been popularized in movies such as "Animal House" and on television. However, initiation activities which endanger a student's physical or mental health are not considered as campus antics and constitutes the criminal offense of hazing. Like other college campus crimes, this offense has serious and long-term legal and educational consequences.

Massachusetts enacted its anti-hazing laws in 1985. Its reach is not limited to initiation into fraternities and sororities and may cover other activities, such as social clubs and team sports. The legal definition of hazing is any conduct or method of initiation into a student organization which intentionally or recklessly endangers any student or person's mental or physical health. It can take place on private, public property, on campus or off-campus.

Statistics parents should know: College drug and alcohol use

If you are a parent of a college student, you may have various concerns about your child being on his or her own. While you hope everything is going to work out, your child may experience some difficulties at school. One particular worry for parents of college students is alcohol and drug use.

The first step in educating your child and providing assistance if he or she gets in trouble is knowing about the issue. It is important to understand the prevalence of substance use and abuse among college students. The following data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse gives vital insight on this widespread problem.

Students charged with wrongful behavior on college campuses

In November 2017, a white female harassed her black roommate at the University of Hartford. The black student said she always felt tension in the dorm room, and she eventually found a new roommate. When the black student said she was moving, her white roommate admitted she had been contaminating her roommate's toothbrush with a foreign substance. The black student had experienced a sore throat for the past month, but the campus health center was unable to diagnose her illness. When the black student found her former roommate had bragged on social media about the harassment, the black student filed a complaint.

The incident gained national media attention. Police arrested the white student, and the court found her guilty of two criminal misdemeanors. The Hartford University President announced zero tolerance for campus bigotry and criminal misbehavior, and he expelled the white student.

How to tell if your college kid is using drugs

As a parent, it can be hard letting your child leave home for college. You hope you have prepared your son or daughter well for the responsibilities and challenges of life. Even if you have, the brain does not complete full rational development until the age of 25, says the University of Rochester Medical Center.

This means that even if your child has shown maturity and good judgment in the past, it is no guarantee the pattern will continue in a college environment. The stress of school, pressure from peers and distance from parents can lead any young adult to experiment with drugs, including prescription medication. How do you know if your college student is doing drugs?

Sexual assault and harassment procedures may change

Federal law prohibits sexual discrimination under Title IX at schools receiving federal funding and governs their handling of sexual assault and harassment. The U.S. Department of Education is revising its rules to give additional rights to the accused, such as the ability to cross-examine witnesses in college campus disciplinary hearings.

The proposal is intended to clarify less formal guidance issued by the federal government in 2011. Critics claimed that these guidelines were biased in favor of accusers, while universities argued that they were confusing and too narrow. They also said that many colleges used a single investigator to gather evidence and make the final determination on charges without providing the accused with an opportunity to confront their accusers.

Students face serious penalties for drug offenses

College students charged with drug crimes can suffer consequences that can follow them their entire academic and professional lives. Massachusetts imposes criminal penalties for the use or possession of drugs or controlled substances, depending on the type of drug. Possession of drugs without proper authorization is illegal. Possession of a comparatively large quantity of drugs may be prosecuted as a distribution offense. Penalties for possession, manufacturing and distribution of drugs carry more sanctions after the first conviction. Many laws require mandatory sentences. Possessing and selling drug paraphernalia is also illegal.

Heroin offenses carry especially tough penalties. It is illegal to be in a place where heroin is kept and even in the company of a person possessing heroin, such as at a party or dorm room. Sharing drugs with individuals under 21 at a party, dormitory or anywhere else within 1,000 feet of a college has harsh penalties under federal law. These include a mandatory one-year prison sentence, while a third conviction can lead to life imprisonment.

Campus disciplinary hearings and student records

Part of the process of growing up often includes making mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes come with serious consequences.

If you or a loved one face campus disciplinary charges, it is important to understand the possible impact moving forward. Consider a few key facts.

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