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A new school year begins at PSU: Keep your record clean

The fall semester is only a few weeks away at Penn State University, along with Penn Tech, Bucknell and Lock Haven. Soon, thousands and thousands of college freshmen will flood the area, anxious to experience their first brush with independence from their parents.

For some, the adjustment is a smooth one. Many are able to balance the demands of school, athletics and other commitments with the thrill that comes from being able to stay out as late as they want. Others, however, are not able to handle their new-found freedom as well.

An arrest can wreck everything

While many students who have trouble adjusting to college may just party too hard and sleep through some 8:00 a.m. classes, others run afoul of the law. Some of the more common offenses that college students are arrested for include:

  • DUI
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Assault
  • Theft and shoplifting
  • Drug possession
  • Trespassing

An arrest is a scary experience. The effect it can have on your future is even scarier. There is a wealth of information available on the internet about arrests and convictions that potential employers and landlords can use to not hire you or rent to you. Additionally, it could make it harder to get into graduate school or enlist in the military.

In the immediate future, an arrest could also mean having to face your school’s judiciary system. In those hearings, schools typically do not need to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to punish you. If they think there is enough evidence to suggest your guilt, they may decide to suspend or expel you, which will also have disastrous effects on your future.

Remember that you have rights

For most college students facing arrest, it is likely to be their first interaction with the legal system. It is understandable that many panic and say too much to the police. However, the most important thing to remember is that you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions, especially without a lawyer present.

The other thing to remember is that you have the power to avoid making choices that will put your academic and professional careers in jeopardy. Have fun and enjoy college, but remember to exercise good judgment to protect your future.

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