Make us your home page

Students, minor arrests can be costly

Every year, thousands of college students across the nation leave home for the first time and make decisions with potential to affect their lives for years. Along with choosing career paths, taking classes and asserting their newfound freedom, some also end up with criminal charges on their records. A Department of Justice report showed that students who have been arrested, even for minor crimes, face extra obstacles in an already shaky job market.

A criminal record "will keep many people from obtaining employment, even if they have paid their dues, are qualified for the job and are unlikely to re-offend," according to Amy L. Solomon, a senior adviser to the assistant attorney general in the U.S. Office of Justice Programs, and author of the report.

Her report pointed out that the "majority of employers indicate that they would 'probably' or 'definitely' not be willing to hire an applicant with a criminal record."

In October, one 20-year-old woman from Broward County was visiting the University of Central Florida campus when she was caught holding an open can of beer and charged with misdemeanor underage drinking.

Like her, many students have their first run-in with law enforcement over relatively minor crimes. But even minor infractions could have implications later on.

"You don't want to have that mark on your record," said University of Central Florida police Chief Richard Beary. "With the job market as competitive as it is, even that misdemeanor arrest could have an impact on you depending on what position you're trying to get."

Though it is unclear what proportion of the arrests made by university police involve students rather than members of the public, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report shows that thousands of arrests are made on Florida college campuses each year.

People who aren't enrolled in schools are on campus for various sporting and social events, and those arrested who are not students are often charged with theft and other property crimes.

Cary Carlisle, a Pensacola bail bondsman, has seen plenty of first-time-offender students come through his doors and said that, although the numbers are low, the experience usually forces those students to grow up fast.

"It's usually a pretty eye-opening experience for them," Carlisle said. "After a while the reality hits them, and all of them are usually scared because this is the first time they have had a brush with the law."

In addition to the long-term pitfalls, students also face short-term consequences.

After an arrest has been reported to the university, the student suspect must go before the Office of Student Conduct, which evaluates each case. The office's student-conduct board holds hearings for suspected violators and levies sanctions ranging from formal warnings to expulsion.

Stay out of trouble

In 2011, police departments at the University of Florida, Florida International, Florida State and UCF arrested a combined 2,194 people. Here are some tips on how to steer clear of the law:

Parents, before your student goes off to college, talk to them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Students armed with knowledge about drugs and alcohol will know what to do when friends offer them.

Students, know the law and abide by it — even when you disagree with it.

Students, use common sense. Stay away from situations that you know may get you in trouble later.

Sources: Orlando Sentinel, UCF police

Students, minor arrests can be costly 02/19/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 5:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa man pleads guilty to forging check for fake investment

    Personal Finance

    A Tampa resident was convicted Thursday for forging a check for a fake investment. The Florida Office of Financial Regulation said that Eric Franz Peer pleaded guilty. He served 11 months in jail and will have to pay $18,000.

  2. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  3. Terrier Tri brings unique triathlon training to South Tampa


    Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.

    Terrier Tri, a cycling studio in South Tampa celebrates a grand opening on June 27. Photo courtesy of Tess Hipp.
  4. New bistro hopes to serve as 'adult Chuck E. Cheese'


    YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.

    Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy readies to open in Ybor City. Photo courtesy of Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy.
  5. Ramadan having an economic impact on local charities, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Dodging the rain, a few families and customers gathered inside Petra Restaurant on Busch Boulevard. Around 8:30 p.m., the adham (or call to prayer) music begins, signaling Iftar, the end of the daily fast. Customers grabbed a plate to dig into the feast.

    Baha Abdullah, 35, the owner of the Sultan Market makes kataif, a common dessert that is eaten during the month long celebration of Ramadan in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]