Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Marijuana use at college could mean double the consequences

College students can become caught up in the new freedom of being out from under their parents' rules but still somewhat protected from adult life.

However, if they face charges from marijuana and other drug crimes that occur on a Florida college campus, there are very real consequences.

What your school can and cannot do if they suspect marijuana use

Every school has different rules and regulations, but university drug policy tends to be universal. Nothing illegal is allowed on campus or is acceptable for their students to partake in. If campus professors or staff suspect drug use, the university has the right to:

  • Search you, your backpack or car while on campus if they have probable cause or you consent to a search.
  • Confiscate your phone if school policy prohibits its use during class. They cannot search it, but seeing a text or drug-related images can provide probable cause for a search warrant.
  • Search any desk, room, dorm or other buildings on campus. These are strictly school property, and you have no rights against campus staff searching them.
  • Call the police if you do not follow instructions, such as submitting to an investigation or search.

If marijuana or other drugs are found in your possession, or you test positive for drug use, your school can ban you from programs or activities, establish strict probationary periods, require restitution or expel you. They may also offer leniency through drug education, drug treatment or sanctions, however. Knowing which marijuana-related crimes will "stay" on campus and which ones will be turned over to the Florida police can depend entirely on your university.

University police are a different entity

Punishments can differ significantly if your university has a disciplinary board and security staff or if they have campus police. Schools like the University of Florida have a fully staffed police presence dedicated to the safety of its students, whereas smaller schools may only have a few police officers.

Any school with a university police presence is required by law to provide for these officers and allow them full empowerment over the students and staff. By law, they can also pursue you off campus if the violation occurred on or within 1,000 feet of the college campus or facilities.

Additionally, university police often have jurisdiction agreements with the local Florida police, and they will work in tandem to find, and punish, students that flee campus.

The Florida police may file more serious charges

Your college may implement harsh punishments that take away your scholastic opportunities, but the Florida police can bring more serious charges. If your case is handed to the police, you could be facing:

  • Jail time
  • Fines ranging from hundreds of dollars to $200,000
  • Felony charges
  • Driving under the influence charges if you were pulled over

These sentences can occur in tandem with your university-implemented penalties. For example, a student could serve community service for the city and also on campus, or face fines from both.

If your college and local police work together to crack down on illegal drug activity, you will likely be facing significant repercussions. An attorney that represents students in local court and knows how to work with campus staff is key to protecting students from drug charges.

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