College is the time in your life when it seems to be acceptable to try crazy things. The stereotype of a college student is parties and last-minute papers. However, your school probably isn’t quite so on-board with that lifestyle.

It’s important for you to understand how a criminal record could affect your college life.

Conduct policies

Many universities have conduct policies within their school codes, which hold staff and students to certain standards. These standards will likely include any misconduct that does against local laws as well as university-specific regulations. For example, most schools will require punishment for drunk driving, but some schools with dry campuses may also have penalties for any alcohol consumption.

When you become a student, you accept the standards of conduct in place by your university and the potential punishments that come with them.

Potential punishments

The University of Rochester’s Standards of Student Conduct states that the university is separate from the law, but students may be investigated by the school if under prosecution. Most colleges will have similar statements.

While universities can cooperate and work alongside law enforcement, they are ultimately separate. This means that your school’s proceedings are not dictated by what the law determines. So, even if you escape charges by police, you can still face punishments from your college. Depending on your school and your actions, you may be facing penalties including:

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension
  • Probation
  • Loss of scholarships
  • Removal from activities like clubs, fraternities, sororities and sports teams

You will likely have to appear before a board and participate in a conduct hearing if you face criminal charges.

So yes, your school can expel you because of your criminal record. Expulsion and criminal charges can change your life. While you may not be able to bring an attorney into your school hearing, it’s still important to get legal advice for how to handle charges from law enforcement and from your university.