Crimes on college campuses can be disrupting to the educational environment for students. There are a number of crimes that are common on college campuses, or are highly associated with colleges. These may include:

  • Alcohol crimes– underage drinking
  • Theft– laptops and smartphones are particularly vulnerable to theft
  • Assault
  • Crimes of a sexual nature such as rape or stalking
  • Crimes associated with hazing
  • Drug crimes (possession, use, or distribution of drugs is particularly common)
  • Harassment or bullying

In many cases, crimes on college campuses aren’t actually committed by students or between students. Instead, many instances involve a visitor to the school or someone trespassing on property (like an intruder in the dorms). Thus, the issue of campus security often plays a role in college campus crime.

Who Can be Held Liable for College Campus Crimes?

Depending on the circumstances, several different parties may be held accountable for crimes on college campuses. These may include:

  • Students
  • Visitors to the school
  • The school and school staff, for example, failing to enforce security measures or failing to warn of dangerous circumstances (such as the presence of a gunman on campus)

In some cases, combination of different parties may be charged with a crime. 

Is an Arrest by Campus Police the Same as a Normal Arrest?

Many students believe that an arrest by campus police will only result in a warning or a fine, but this is not true. In most cases, campus police forces have the same powers as state and local police authorities. In fact, many campus police task forces are actually branches of local police forces.  This means that they may have the same powers to make an arrest, secure a search warrant, etc.

Even if the campus police don’t have the same powers as regular police forces, criminal charges will usually be filed at the municipal level and not only with the school, resulting in criminal charges for the defendant. From time to time campus police may join efforts with local police for larger projects, such as crowd control in a campus or city event. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Crimes on college campuses are generally no different from crimes elsewhere. Persons charged with crimes on campus will still face penalties such as fines or jail sentences. If you have any issues regarding crime on a college campus or university, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A lawyer will be able to provide you with sound legal advice, and can defend you in court if this becomes necessary.