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What to do when your college kid faces drug possession charges

Sending your child to college is a bittersweet event. On the one hand, you feel a sense of pride for the young adult your son or daughter has become and for his or her decision to get a higher education. On the other hand, you worry about your child being independent and facing the many challenges that come with college life and young adulthood in general.

One of these challenges is the alcohol and drug activity that is a common part of the college experience. What if your son or daughter makes a bad choice and faces charges of drug possession?

Take it seriously

Some parents may brush off this run-in with the law as normal behavior. Regardless of how you perceive your child's drug use, take the charges seriously. A conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can result in both short- and long-term consequences:

  • Suspension or expulsion from the school
  • Ineligibility for graduate, medical or law school
  • Loss of scholarships and other financial aid
  • Removal from sports teams and other extracurricular activities
  • Heavy fines and possible jail time
  • A criminal record that will make obtaining employment difficult, especially for occupations requiring licensing

Get professional guidance on how to approach the charges to avoid making a mistake and worsening the situation.

Talk to your child

It is important to know the facts of the case to determine the best course of legal action. Was your child in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was this her or his first time experimenting with drugs, or is addiction a factor? Did the drugs belong to someone else? It may be hard to hear the answers, but you need to be supportive to help your college student get through this.

While support from loved ones is beneficial, be careful whom you talk to about the situation. Things you say and do can make their way into court and harm the case. Keep details private until the proceedings are over.

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