College students are often experiencing their first real taste of freedom. As they learn to handle independence, they sometimes make mistakes such as experimenting with illegal substances or driving while intoxicated. The minor missteps of youth can sometimes jeopardize their futures. 

If your child is facing criminal charges, you may feel disappointed, angry and helpless. However, being far away does not mean you cannot help. Navigating the legal system is difficult, so your child may need you now more than ever. Here are some things you and your child should know as you face the coming months. 

School 

Policies differ from one university to the next, but many schools in Pennsylvania can expel students convicted of criminal activity. Most crimes, especially those that occur on campus, violate a school’s code of conduct. Disciplinary measures often start with a hearing. College disciplinary hearings are not state-run legal proceedings, but they are serious. 

Even if the charges come to naught, weeks or months facing legal hassles can take a toll on your child’s grades. Your student may have trouble focusing on classwork and completing assignments on time. 

Employment 

Your student probably enrolled in college, at least in part, for a career boost. Unfortunately, the degree may not outweigh the conviction. A recent human resource industry survey concluded that almost 85% of employers consult a national criminal database as part of their hiring process. Employers may screen for criminal charges even if the charges did not result in conviction. Large corporations often forbid hiring convicted criminals. 

Self-employment can still be an option. However, financing a venture may prove challenging if lenders conduct background checks. 

Housing 

Continuing to live on campus may be impossible if charges result in a conviction, either in dormitories or within the Greek system. Many rental agencies and property management firms prohibit renting to convicted criminals. Students may have more luck with private landlords if they can show that they followed probation requirements and completed rehabilitation programs.