Without much fanfare, the University of Colorado Police Department made a significant change in handling low-level and first-time criminal offenses on campus approximately one year ago. Instead of a court summons and the potential for a substantial fine, a more lenient approach was put in place.
The objective of the new policies is to sidestep students being introduced to the criminal justice system in their formative years of life while still taking full responsibility for their actions.
Options outside of the criminal court system
Criminal citations have given way to administrative citations governed by the school’s conduct process. Minors possessing drugs or alcohol, using fake IDs, or committing unlawful conduct on public property will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. While they will be fined, the amount will be half of what they would be forced to pay in criminal court. The money will go towards restorative justice and additional safety programs on campus.
Repeat offenders or violent crime suspects will not be eligible for the program.
The conduct process will also involve evaluations of the potential for risky behavior. Customized plans will include one-on-one sessions or group interactions. In the end, the program acknowledges that young people make mistakes. Instead of throwing them into the criminal justice system, learning from their lapses in judgment can represent growth and maturity that will hopefully help them stay out of trouble in the future.
First-time criminal charges for young people can have devastating effects on once-promising futures. Pursuing an education or finding a side job while in college presents challenges with a criminal record. While a college program can help with intervention, many cases will call for the help of a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney.