The Law Offices of John Phebus

Understanding crime on college campuses

There is a lot of attention and scrutiny on America's colleges, especially in light of recent publicity about several high-profile sexual assault cases and the response that some schools have had, or not had, to the phenomenon. For today's college students, this information often comes out of context, though. This can lead to an environment of excessive fear, and it can also lead to recklessness in other areas as students misunderstand the real risks that come with campus life. Those risks can also include being accused of crimes that you did not commit.

Campus crime overall

Despite the media's focus on sexual assault, reports of it are relatively rare when compared to crimes such as burglary and motor vehicle theft. The reason why sexual assault has come into focus is twofold:

  • Sexual assaults have risen while other crimes have fallen.
  • The ways that universities handle sexual assault internally are often controversial.

For students navigating the day-to-day realities of campus life, it is important to note that these theft-related crimes are still the most common, and to protect yourself from both the victimization that comes from being targeted and the victimization that comes from being charged for a crime someone else committed.

If you are arrested

College campuses are crowded spaces where individuals live in close contact with one another, which makes it easy for cases of mistaken identity to pop up. Likewise, it is also easy to wind up in possession of something that is not yours because a friend leaves it with you. Since many students are meeting new people regularly, this often creates situations where new acquaintances could potentially leave you in a compromising situation.

If you get arrested for a campus crime you did not commit, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney, especially if you are found with evidence of the crime. Do not wait to ask for one so you can get necessary advice about your rights. Waiting means passing time without knowing how to properly communicate with law enforcement without compromising your own rights, so ask early and often, and do not answer questions until you have a chance to get your own questions answered. Knowing your rights and talking through your options is your best chance to not only reach the optimum resolution for yourself but also to make sure law enforcement is able to help the victims by finding those who are responsible for on-campus crimes.

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