Spring Break has begun for some colleges and is quickly approaching for others. As the number of Covid-19 cases begin to decline and travel restrictions are lifted, some experts believe travel will return to a pre-pandemic level. The Lowcountry, particularly Charleston, is a popular destination for many due to the proximity to the beaches and the downtown nightlife. With that in mind, Spring Break is a point in time where we see college student arrests peak.
Here are the most common offenses college students are arrested for in South Carolina:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Boating Under the Influence (BUI)—South Carolina takes DUI/BUI charges seriously and a conviction can have devastating ramifications upon every aspect of your life. The penalties for a conviction of a first-offense DUI may include jail time or probation, suspension of your driver’s license, fines/fees and court costs, alcohol abuse screening and education and/or installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Underage Drinking: In South Carolina, the legal drinking age is 21 years of age. Therefore, if you even just have a sip of alcohol and you are under the age of 21, then you can be found guilty of underage drinking.
- Fake Identification: If you use a fake identification to purchase alcohol, or to try to get into a bar underage, or present a fake identification to law enforcement, then you can be arrested in South Carolina. The consequences can be severe, including jail time and/or a fine.
- Disorderly Conduct: This crime includes a wide range of conduct, including being visibly intoxicated in public or cussing/acting belligerent in public. If convicted, you can face jail time and/or a fine.
- Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Cocaine & Possession of a Controlled Substance: In South Carolina, the penalty range varies depending on the type of drug you are arrested for. The important thing to remember is that any drug charge exposes you to a potential jail sentence and/or a hefty fine. Moreover, a subsequent arrest for similar drugs can increase the penalty range.
- Assault and Battery or Domestic Violence: If you get into a bar fight or are kicked out of a bar by the bouncer and you end up pushing the bouncer, then you can be arrested for assault and battery. If you get into an argument with your girlfriend or boyfriend and it turns into a physical altercation, then you can be arrested for domestic violence.
Here are the most common consequences of a conviction in South Carolina:
- In criminal court, you can face jail time and/or fines for the abovementioned criminal offenses. Moreover, for some crimes, subsequent arrests for similar offenses can result in being exposed to a more severe penalty range. There are also potential collateral consequences of a conviction. In addition to facing jail time and/or fines, if you are a college student, you can also face a school administrative hearing where you can be placed on probation, suspended or even expelled. A conviction can impact your housing situation, legal aid or financial scholarships, future job applications or graduate school.
Here is what you should do if you are arrested in South Carolina:
- Remain calm and respectful to law enforcement: Being arrested is frightening and emotions are at an all time high. Acting disrespectful to law enforcement is only going to hurt your case down the road, not to mention dramatically increase your chances of getting arrested on the spot. In South Carolina, you can be charged with an additional charge of resisting arrest if you fail to remain calm and choose to act out by resisting or attempting to resist the officer placing you under arrest.
- Remain silent: If you are placed under arrest, you should be given your Miranda Always remember that you have the right to remain silent. While it may seem that speaking to the police officer would help your situation, it rarely does. Why? Because anything you say can and often will be used against you in court.
- Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately: As you can see, being arrested for a crime is overwhelming and can have severe consequences. The collateral consequences, such as facing a college administrative hearing, can be just as determinative on your future success in life. As former prosecutors and a former judge, we have dedicated our practice to using our experience to protect our clients’ rights. We know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system as well as college administrative hearing process and can help walk you through the process.