It seems as though it has become increasingly common to hear about college students getting busted for marijuana possession. Each year, there seem to be more and more college athletes being suspended by their university or questioned by professional teams when entering the draft regarding “character issues” following a failed drug test because of marijuana use. The consequences of being caught with marijuana on those students, however, are very different than the average student.
First, there are the obvious legal implications of being arrested or cited for marijuana possession. The severity of the penalty depends on the amount of the drug the individual has on him or her. If the student possesses 30 grams or less, he or she will be charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. This crime carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. If an individual possesses more than 30 grams, he or she will be charged with possession of marijuana and could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and have to pay a $5,000 fine.
However, the implications of a student being convicted of drug possession can be farther reaching than he or she may realize. According to the Higher Education Act of 1998, a student convicted of any crime involving the possession or sale of a controlled substance is not eligible for student aid for a year following the conviction. If the student is convicted of a second offense, he or she is then ineligible for an additional two years. A third offense renders the student permanently ineligible for student aid. If the student is convicted of selling a controlled substance, the penalties are even stiffer, with a two year ban from receiving financial aid following a first conviction.
If you are a student or are the parent of a student and he or she is facing drug charges, it is imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney very early in the legal process. The ramifications of a drug conviction are farther reaching than you may realize. My Pittsburgh law firm, Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, may be able to help minimize the impact of the charges and prevent you or your child from losing financial aid.