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PSU student charged with burglary: Is that necessary?

A recent arrest of a Penn State student should give many parents and students pause about how law enforcement can choose to throw someone’s future into doubt through their charging decisions.

According to multiple news reports, a 19-year-old male PSU student was arrested recently for allegedly stealing approximately $300 from two other students’ dorm rooms. For $300 and no violence, he is facing multiple felony burglary and criminal trespassing charges and misdemeanor charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

Student displayed ‘odd’ behavior

According to one of the alleged victims, she came upon the student in the hallway in the early morning hours on a recent weekend. She said the student told her that he was looking for a binder clip. She said that she could get one from her room. The man then walked in unattended, and it was then that he allegedly took $50.

That same night, another student encountered the alleged robber in his dorm room. The alleged robber reportedly took $250 from that student’s wallet. It was the next morning when students spoke about the young man’s allegedly “odd” behavior that night in the dorm. He apparently showed other students a large wad of cash and talked about robbing others.

Should the student face such harsh charges?

According to Pennsylvania law, burglary is the act of entering a building with the intent to commit a crime inside. However, in one of those cases, the student was allowed to go into a dorm room. Should he face a felony charge for that? Additionally, will we later find out that the “odd” behavior the student was exhibiting played a role in this episode?

This is a stark reminder to all college students of what could be at stake for an arrest. A conviction on multiple felony counts for this student could mean he will spend years behind bars. It will mean not graduating on top of dealing with all of the collateral consequences, including a damaged reputation.

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