7 Facts About Criminal Law Every College Student Should Know

By Brett Snider, Esq. on August 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

College students may think they're up to date on just about everything. Well news flash, taking that American Law 101 class didn't give you innate knowledge of all the ways the law intersects with your life.

Take a slice of humble pie sprinkled with these seven basic facts about criminal law that every college student should know:

  1. On-duty campus cops are probably real cops. At most public and private colleges, there will be some form of police presence roaming the campus. While on duty, these campus cops typically have all the powers and privileges extended to off-campus cops. Some campus cops hired to patrol private universities may be more limited in their abilities (like mall cops), but they can still detain you until the police arrive.
  2. Minors can't drink alcohol, even on a "wet" campus. If you attend a college with a so-called "wet" campus (where the consumption of alcohol is allowed, with restrictions), you may be insulated from enforcement of some alcohol laws. However, serving minors alcohol and minors possessing or consuming alcohol is still illegal, regardless of your college's laissez-faire policies.
  3. Bomb threats aren't pranks, they're felonies. Think you can stall for time on an exam by calling in a bomb threat? The next call you make might be to your criminal lawyer after you're charged with a federal felony.
  4. Police don't always have to "knock and announce." Although it is a common law for police to knock and announce their presence before entering a private dwelling, if they obtain a "no knock" warrant, they may not have to. Even without a warrant, exigent circumstances may exist for police to enter unannounced.
  5. There may be limits to your exercise of free speech. Planning a protest or some form of civil disobedience? If you go to a private school, you may have much less freedom with regard to how the school treats you in your exercise of free speech. Just like private companies, privately funded colleges can discipline you based on your opinions.
  6. Driving while stoned is still illegal everywhere. Even in Colorado and Washington state, where local laws have legalized recreational marijuana sales and use, driving while stoned is still illegal. Some states may have more nuanced ways of testing if you're under the influence of marijuana, but if you get caught driving stoned, it's essentially a DUI.
  7. In trouble? Many lawyers offer free consultations. If you get into criminal trouble, you can probably speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case for free. Just look for an attorney who advertises free consultations.

Snack on those facts as you try to lose the Freshman 15.

  • Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today.

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