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Can you be expelled from college for a minor crime?

It's the start of your second year in college. The first year went well: You did not do quite as well as you wanted academically, but you adjusted to college life and you are ready to improve as a sophomore.

During that first week of classes, the whole campus takes on a charged atmosphere. There are parties at the off-campus apartments and everywhere else. People love being back at school, and they really do not feel like they have that many responsibilities yet. The first week is just for getting settled in.

When legal problems come up

Unfortunately, you get a bit caught up in the whole thing, and you wind up getting arrested. Perhaps you get charged with possessing alcohol while you are still underage. Maybe you get a DUI on your way home from one of those parties, when you thought you were sober enough to drive. Maybe you get caught with illegal drugs that you were holding for someone else. Perhaps a party gets a bit out of control and you are arrested for disturbing the peace and then running when the police show up.

Regardless of the exact charge, you have one important question:

Can I be expelled for this?

With help and advice, you know how to handle the legal side of the case. Perhaps you feel like you can clear your name. Maybe you're ready to pay the fines.

But you're not sure if your college career will be affected. Even if you spend a short time in jail or pay a hefty fine, if the college expels you for your actions, the situation can suddenly feel far more dire than it was before. How do you break that news to your parents? Can you ever get into another school? What does this mean for your future?

What does the school policy say?

It would be nice if there was a uniform answer to this question, but there often isn't one. There is no law saying you have to be expelled for a DUI, an MIP or a similar offense. The law just requires you to handle any potential legal ramifications, and then you are free to do as you please in your personal life.

What becomes important is your school's official policy. This likely includes a code of conduct. If your alleged crime violated the code of conduct, you may face significant consequences. That could include expulsion.

On top of that, your school is not held to the same standard of proof as a criminal court; it's probably a lot lower. This means the outcome of your case may not directly impact the penalties from the school.

In any case, it is very important to clearly understand your legal rights so that you can put yourself in the best possible position for the future.

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