Criminal Defense Attorneys for College Students

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

A criminal charge can derail any person’s future – but for college students in Pennsylvania, the consequences can be especially devastating. Not only do students face steep fines, victim restitution, and months or even years of prison time – they also risk being expelled or suspended, depending on the severity of the offense. They could lose their job, their internship, or even their scholarship, setting their future back by years.

Between the court-ordered penalties, the lost academic and professional opportunities, and the damage to their reputation, a criminal charge can destroy everything that your child has worked so hard to achieve. Everyone deserves to have their day in court and enjoy fierce advocacy on their behalf. Make sure you take swift and effective action to protect your child’s future.

If your son or daughter was arrested and charged with a crime at college, look to Shubin Law for aggressive legal representation. Pennsylvania defense lawyer Andrew Shubin has years of experience defending college students against a wide array of felony and misdemeanor charges and is ready to put his experience to work for your family. For a free consultation, contact us online, or call (814) 826-3586 today.

College Campus Crimes Our Student Criminal Defense Attorneys Handle

Any person can be charged with any crime, regardless of age. However, some types of offenses tend to be more prevalent among college students and young adults, such as drunk driving, marijuana possession, and hazing-related charges.

There are a number of reasons for the higher prevalence of these types of charges.  Firstly, as you might suspect, these activities occur more commonly in these environments.  But the stigma of college life also leads to law enforcement’s predisposition for investigating such crimes in jurisdictions with high student populations (i.e., college towns).  Many of these charges can also be levied at multiple defendants because of the close quarters in which college students live and exist.  Because most students spend the vast majority of their time within feet of other college students, it is easy for prosecutors to hang charges such as possession on more defendants than otherwise would be reasonable.

At Shubin Law, our accomplished legal team possesses the knowledge, the skill, and the experience to strategically defend students facing a broad range of criminal charges in Pennsylvania, from high-level felony charges to minor offenses like disorderly conduct. Some of the most common campus crimes that college student defense lawyer Andrew Shubin handles include the following:

Drug possession, distribution, and trafficking charges

  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy (molly)
  • Heroin
  • LSD (acid)
  • Marijuana (cannabis, pot, weed)
  • Prescription painkillers (OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Xanax)
  • Psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms)

DUI/DWI charges (driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated)

  • DUI with drugs
  • Open container violations
  • Repeat DUI

Sex crimes

  • Indecent exposure (flashing)
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • “Revenge porn” offenses

Theft and property crimes

  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Criminal mischief (vandalism)
  • Identity theft
  • Shoplifting

Violent crimes and weapons possession

  • Simple assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Gun possession
  • Robbery

Other common college campus crimes

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Hate crimes
  • Hazing
  • Public intoxication
  • Resisting arrest
  • Underage drinking/fake IDs

If you or one of your family members was charged with these or other offenses while attending a college, community college, or university in Pennsylvania, the dedicated college crime defense attorneys at Shubin Law are here to help.

Criminal Penalties for College Students in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has two criminal justice systems: the system through which adult defendants are processed, and a separate juvenile justice system for minors. In some cases, minors as young as 14 can be tried as adults in Pennsylvania, depending on the circumstances. Since most college students are age 18 or older upon matriculation, most will face adult court procedures – and adult penalties – if charged with and convicted of a criminal offense.

The penalties for a crime depend heavily on how that crime is categorized, or “graded.” In Pennsylvania, there are three broad categories of crimes: summary offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies.

Summary Offenses

Of the three categorical grades featured above, summary offenses are the least severe.  A summary offense is somewhere between a misdemeanor and a traffic citation in terms of severity.

However, summary offenses are also the most commonly assessed of the three categories, and convictions for summary offenses still typically end up on a person’s permanent criminal record.  If a potential employer were to ask about any criminal history, a summary offender would be forced to have a very embarrassing conversation or risk losing the chance at the job altogether. Further, multiple summary offense convictions of the same variety may amount to a misdemeanor in certain circumstances.

Examples of summary offenses include drunk and disorderly conduct, underage drinking, and harassment.


Misdemeanors are divided into three subcategories: third-degree misdemeanors, second-degree misdemeanors, and first-degree misdemeanors. First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious, meaning a first-degree misdemeanor will generally result in harsher penalties than a misdemeanor of the second or third degree.

Examples of first-degree misdemeanors in Pennsylvania include simple assault, stalking, multiple DUIs, and property theft of between $200 and $2,000.  Examples of second and third-degree misdemeanors include shoplifting, marijuana possession, vandalism, loitering, and property theft of between $50 and $200.


Like misdemeanors in Pennsylvania, felonies are also split into three subgroups: third-degree felonies, second-degree felonies, and first-degree felonies. As is true of first-degree misdemeanors, first-degree felonies are considered the most serious among non-capital felony offenses, meaning they carry greater penalties than lesser felonies.

First-degree felonies include murder, rape, and assault with a deadly weapon.  Second-degree felonies can include charges such as sexual assault, aggravated assault, and burglary.  Third-degree felonies may include some child pornography charge, possession with intent to distribute, and certain gun crimes.

The maximum penalties for felonies, misdemeanors, and summary offenses in Pennsylvania are generally as follows:

Summary Offenses

  • Fine – $300
  • Sentence – 90 days

Third Degree Misdemeanors

  • Fine – $2,000
  • Sentence – 1 year

Second Degree Misdemeanors

  • Fine – $5,000
  • Sentence – 2 years

First Degree Misdemeanors

  • Fine – $10,000
  • Sentence – 5 years

Third Degree Felonies

  • Fine – $15,000
  • Sentence – 7 years

Second Degree Felonies

  • Fine – $25,000
  • Sentence – 10 years

First Degree Felonies

  • Fine – $25,000
  • Sentence – 20 years

It’s important to note that some statutes create exceptions to the aforementioned penalties, specifying that even harsher punishments may or must be imposed. Judges may also seek to impose additional penalties beyond fines and incarceration, such as mandatory counseling, mandatory community service, or suspension of the offender’s license, depending on the case.

Long-Term Implications of Criminal Felony Convictions for College Students

We would like to think that the ramifications of a criminal conviction for a college student end with the serving of a sentence or the paying of a fine.  However, the label of felon can follow a young person around long after they are through with their sentenced punishment.

If you have been convicted of a felony in Pennsylvania, you may face restrictions on freedoms that you otherwise might enjoy.  Depending on the nature and severity of the conviction, you may be statutorily barred from certain activities or benefits.  Pennsylvania has statutes in place that prevent convicted felons from running for public office or serving on juries.  If you were convicted of a violent crime, you may not be able to own, purchase, or possess a firearm.  Convicted felons are unable to vote while serving a prison sentence.  Certain prohibitions may prevent someone who was previously convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania from obtaining or retaining college financial aid or additional government benefits.

How to Prepare for a Criminal Hearing for a College Student

For many college students, an arraignment for criminal charges might be the first time they have ever even been inside a courtroom.  While this can be intimidating, arraignments happen every day and are fairly straightforward.  Below are a couple of pieces of advice for dealing with a criminal arraignment as a college student.

Firstly, it is never too early to get a lawyer.  Our college crime attorneys can help you through every complication that may arise, from making bail to negotiating a plea deal if necessary.  We guarantee that you will arrive with your attorney on the date of the arraignment well prepared.

Generally, there is a loose dress code for court appearances depending on the jurisdiction.  Attendees are typically required to wear attire that provides ample coverage of their body.  Males are usually required to wear a collared shirt.  Your attorney should be able to provide you with more information on the rules of your jurisdiction.  Regardless of the dress code, you should try to dress your best.  Remember, all the court knows about you prior to your appearance is the allegations against you.  First impressions can go a long way in these situations.

Try to show up early to avoid any incidents that may cause you to be late.  If something does come up that will force you to be late to or miss your arraignment, do not keep it to yourself.  Let the court know about the conflict and your schedule.  Otherwise, you may face additional issues due to a potential bench warrant for failing to appear in court.

You may be offered a plea deal before your arraignment.  We strongly urge you against signing any sort of plea deal before consulting with your lawyer.  Prosecutors can use scare tactics to try to force defendants into a corner.  Remember that the justice system affords you many rights and expects you to avail yourself of all of them.

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers for College Students

At Shubin Law, our college crime lawyers are committed to upholding and protecting the constitutional rights of students throughout the state of Pennsylvania. No matter how serious the charges against your son or daughter may be, Andrew Shubin and his dedicated team can fight for reduced penalties, reduced charges, or even complete dismissal of the charges.

We have a long track record of obtaining acquittals and other favorable outcomes for student defendants – even in challenging high-stakes criminal cases. Our mission is to protect your family’s future. For a free legal consultation with an experienced criminal attorney, contact us online today, or call Shubin Law at (814) 826-3586.


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