Criminal Records Could Affect College and University Admissions
by NYC Criminal Defense Lawyer Lance Fletcher
In 1986, Jeanne Clery was a 19 year old freshman at Lehigh University. She was awoken while another student, Josoph Henry, broke in to her dorm to burglarize her. When Henry saw that she woke up, he raped and murdered her. Henry was later arrested, tried, and convicted. The Clery Act, 20 U.S.C. 1092 was passed in 1989 in response to this horrific crime and requires colleges and universities to keep and disclose criminal activity committed on their campuses. In 2006, the common application, used by over 500 colleges, started collecting criminal history information from applicants.
Many schools will even ask about minor infractions such as low-level drug, marijuana, and alcohol possession, shoplifting, and other misdemeanors. If the applicant admits having some type of qualifying conviction, the school may ask for the applicant's rap sheet, arrest reports, or other information. The applicant may also be interrogated about the event, what happened in court, and the outcome of the case. The effect is that many applicants with convictions didn't bother to complete the application process. Those with felony convictions were very often to give up on their college plans.
Applying to college or seeking an advanced degree is a very competitive process. Who wants to discuss an old theft conviction during the application process?
If you ever go to court and end up paying a fine, it's probably because you've been convicted of something. The unpleasant trip to court and fine may be over quickly enough but the effects of the conviction could be lifelong. As a New York City Criminal Defense Attorney, I have received calls from people after they went to court and already plead guilty. They are often calling because the cop who arrested them falsely assured them that it was no big deal and the judge would dismiss their case when they got to court. Unfortunately, reversing your conviction is very difficult and often fails. Never go to court alone. A conviction could not only affect your ability to get into college, it could cause permanent employment and immigration consequences.
You're probably asking yourself, what can a New York City Criminal Defense Attorney do? A lot. The first thing that I do to defend against the charges is take a careful, thorough look at the facts. As an experienced lawyer, I know that I should usually move cautiously when the judge and prosecutor are in a hurry to force my client to plead guilty. I often discover defects in the prosecutors case after a careful analysis of the supporting paperwork such as your arrest report, complaint report, arresting officer's notes, and the accusatory instrument. In felonies, I demand a review of your Grand Jury minutes to dispute the charges. As a defense attorney, I can file motions to suppress the arrest, evidence, and to dismiss your case. I can provide the prosecutor reasons to take another look at the charges to see if we can get them dropped or reduced.
If you've been arrested, get your record expunged. In New York, you can only get your record partially or fully expunged if your case is dismissed or resolved with an offense that qualifies. In other states you may be able to expunge misdemeanor and felony convictions.
If you or a loved one has been arrested,contact us for a free case evaluation.