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Are College Students Unfairly Treated due to Criminal History?

Imagine you are a graduating Florida high school student, excited about the prospects of going to college next year. You get into the school of your dreams; but before accepting you, the school must perform a background check on you.

A few years ago, you were arrested for marijuana possession. You were just a young kid; and as young kids are wont to do, they will make childish mistakes. In fact, most people all across the country made the same mistakes when they were kids -- but were lucky enough not to get caught. Curiosity is a part of growing up; and while doing drugs is never a good thing, many kids experiment with drugs while they are teenagers.

Maybe your dream school rejects you; or maybe it still admits you, but you notice that you are under intense scrutiny, by both school officials and campus security. You may even notice that there is an increased security presence near your dorm.

There are a couple of things to take away from this hypothetical situation, one that is all too real for many college students. First of all, a new study was released that found background checks of incoming college students fails to predict future crimes (mainly assault, alcohol and drug crimes). Some students with criminal histories may commit crimes; but there was little correlation between the two.

The other thing to remember is that a criminal charge, even a minor one like drug use as a teenager, can come back to haunt you later in life. That is why it is critical to aggressively defend the case against you when it occurs. Even if things don't work out in court, you can appeal the decision to try to lessen the crime or punishment against you. That could get the charge scrubbed from your record.

Source: UPI, "Criminal background check don't predict college crime," May 19, 2013

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