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Snowball fight suspension calls attention to college crime consequences

The occasional escapade or questionable decision is practically an inevitable part of the college experience, as many students in Washington County, Oregon, know firsthand.
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    February 28, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The occasional escapade or questionable decision is practically an inevitable part of the college experience, as many students in Washington County, Oregon, know firsthand. Unfortunately, occasionally situations get out of hand and students find themselves facing charges of college student crimes. A seemingly innocent snowball fight that recently led to the suspension of one University of Oregon student and talks of criminal charges against others underscored the fact that college crimes can happen and have unexpected consequences.

Snowball fight seen as assault

The line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior can be fine, and this became clear when an on-campus snowball fight at Oregon University got out of hand in Dec. 2013. According to ABC News, the incident began when football players challenged fans to a snowball fight, which unwilling bystanders were pulled into when students began blocking the street and throwing snowballs at cars. A video that went viral shows two cars being hit with snowballs and even buckets of snow.

The university suspended one football player and initially considered taking disciplinary actions against other students involved in the fight. One professor who was caught on video getting out of his car to talk to the students, only to have more snowballs thrown at him, decided not to press charges. However, a spokesperson for the university Police Department commented that this did not mean that criminal charges could not be filed against the students in the future.

Common college student crimes

A snowball fight is certainly not what most people think of when they consider situations that might lead college students into legal trouble, but university officials viewed the fight as an assault on the innocent bystanders. Other common charges that college students may face include:
- Sexual assault.
- Driving under the influence.
- Possession of drugs.
- Minor in possession.

The snowball fight and the strong reaction it provoked provide an opportunity to remind college students of the gravity of criminal charges and the importance of seeking qualified help if they ever face such charges.

Consequences of student crimes

Being convicted of a crime as a college student can have numerous consequences. Besides any fees or prison time associated with a criminal conviction, students may face sanctions initiated by the school; the campus Police Department spokesperson interviewed by ABC commented that students involved in the snowball fight could face both legal sanctions and university disciplinary actions.

A criminal conviction can also affect a student's ability to continue pursuing an education. In addition to having their educations disrupted, students who are incarcerated are ineligible for federal student aid, according to the website Federal Student Aid. Students who are convicted of drug-related offenses may lose eligibility for federal aid, and students who have been convicted of sexual offenses and assigned an involuntary civil commitment lose eligibility for federal Pell Grants.

Of course, there may be numerous other consequences for students with criminal convictions, from social stigma to restricted future job opportunities. For all of these reasons, it is important that students take criminal charges and any parallel university disciplinary actions seriously.

Anyone who is in college and facing any kind of criminal charge should make sure to speak with an attorney about protecting personal rights as well as future interests.

Article provided by Helzer Cromar & Schneider, LLP
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