College administrators across the country have begun taking a harder stance on fraternity parties, and on disciplining the members and leadership of Greek organizations when students are injured at fraternity house parties. Now more than ever, it is critical for students facing charges from college disciplinary boards or criminal charges by local prosecutors to protect their academic careers and their futures by obtaining skilled legal representation.
The recent death of a Penn State college student, and the ensuing response by prosecutors, has drawn nationwide attention. A 19-year-old sophomore was being hazed into a fraternity when he lost consciousness after consuming an excessive amount of alcohol. The young man ultimately died of alcohol poisoning. In response, local prosecutors filed criminal charges against 18 students who were believed to be involved in the events leading up to the young man’s death. Eight of these students are facing felony charges.
Elsewhere, college administrators have revoked the charter of Greek organizations that have been accused of harming their members. Some schools have gone so far as to no longer formally recognize any Greek-letter groups. Without formal authority, some groups of students have responded to efforts to shut down fraternities by forming their own underground groups to recreate the fraternity environment without an official charter. Since most college fraternity houses are not located on campus, the associated college usually lacks the right to shut down a fraternity house and force the students to move, even if they can revoke the formal relationship between the school and fraternity. This has resulted in colleges getting local prosecutors involved in disciplining students.
Criminal prosecutions can have even more serious consequences for the students involved than could on-campus discipline. While negative outcomes of on-campus disciplinary hearings can result in expulsion and negative consequences for a student’s academic record, criminal charges for a student who is over 18 could result in difficulty obtaining college or graduate school admission, professional licenses, employment, or housing. For these reasons, Virginia college students facing criminal charges are strongly advised to seek highly-qualified legal representation when facing either a campus disciplinary hearing or criminal prosecution.
If you or your child is facing serious charges for conduct on a university campus in Virginia, contact the effective, experienced, and knowledgeable Charlottesville college discipline defense attorneys at St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana for a consultation, at 434-296-7138.