College is a rite of passage for nearly half the US population. Getting a degree, whether it’s an associate’s degree for a trade or a 4-year degree from an Ivy League, can unlock tens of thousands of dollars a year in earning potential.
At the same time, most people who are looking to go to college in the future are still young and prone to youthful indiscretions. This means that many Colorado citizens receive charges for drug crimes are likely facing them before or during the college application process.
These kinds of charges make it hard to get into schools and can rule out many scholarships and housing options. A single mistake at a party can result in a lifetime of problems.
Difficulty Getting Accepted into Schools
Most schools require you to disclose any criminal record you might have during the application process. The Common Application, a widely-used standardized form, has been collecting applicants’ criminal histories since 2016.
This information is considered by the schools in regards to application decisions, and not in a positive manner. Getting into college is already hard enough without this information being included, especially for disadvantaged populations.
While having a drug crime charge on your record is not necessarily as bad as other charges, when a school is choosing between two otherwise equal candidates, a criminal record may make the difference.
As criminal status is not a class protected under law, this is all perfectly legal. Young adults who’ve made one mistake are in effect prevented from trying to make their futures better.
Trouble Securing Financial Aid
Federal financial aid may not be given to those who are currently incarcerated. For most crimes, federal aid is reinstated upon release. Drug crime convictions, however, are different.
You may lose eligibility for any federal student aid permanently. Continuing with school without financial aid is often impossible for students.
Even if your drug charge happened before you received any student aid, it can affect whether you receive scholarships.
Privately funded scholarships and those offered by schools themselves are dependent on having a clear criminal record, for instance, and others specifically require a lack of any drug convictions.
Problems Finding Housing
Many on-campus living options for students require the student to have a clean criminal record, but even more so for drug charges.
In fact, a drug charge can result in a student being expelled from on-campus housing with no legal recourse, as long as proper eviction processes are followed.
If a student isn’t living on campus, another option for living space is public or Section 8 housing. However, these housing options also have strict alcohol and drug policies. A Colorado student with a drug conviction is unlikely to even be considered for this option.
Nearly every apartment complex does a background check upon application, actually. Attempting to get an apartment with a drug conviction will be difficult, making housing for students who have made a mistake nearly impossible to find.
A Colorado Drug Crimes Attorney Can Help
Having charges for drug crimes does not make it impossible to go to college, but it certainly makes it harder. If you’re charged with a drug crime – especially if circumstances were murky or unjust – fighting the charge is smart.
Ultimately, avoiding a criminal record for drug crimes altogether is your best chance of college acceptance, receiving aid, and finding housing. Seeking out the advice of a seasoned legal professional who is experienced in Colorado drug laws can help.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.