College is a time of firsts. You’ve moved out of your parents’ house, and you now have certain freedoms for the first time. For many college students, experimenting with drugs or alcohol is a normal part of the college experience. It can be easy for it to seem as though engaging in such behavior on campus comes without consequences.
However, it’s important to remember that drug use – including recreational marijuana use – is still illegal in Texas. If you’re caught in possession of even a small amount of marijuana, you can face drug charges – which can lead to long-term penalties.
- Criminal prosecution: In Texas, being caught with even a small amount of marijuana on your person can result in a possession charge, which is a Class B misdemeanor. You could face up to 180 days in jail and have to pay up to $10,000 in fines.
- Academic consequences: Each educational institution handles student drug use differently. Your college could choose to suspend you if you’re arrested for drug possession. If you receive government-funded student aid, you risk losing it. In addition, having any type of criminal offense on your record can make it more difficult to be accepted to other higher education programs down the road.
- Future challenges: One of the worst parts about having a criminal record is that it follows you for the rest of your life (unless you apply to get your record expunged). This means that anytime you have a background check, your arrest and/or conviction will appear. This can affect your chances of achieving other life goals – such as security a job offer, renting an apartment or getting a loan to buy a house.
What you can do
One thoughtless decision has the potential to change your life forever. However, having a criminal defense attorney on your side can greatly improve your chances of getting your charges dropped – especially if it’s your first offense. An attorney can effectively advocate on your behalf and make a strong case for lenient treatment.
If you are arrested, it’s important to ask to speak to your attorney right away – before you say anything to the police that may incriminate you.