Common College Crimes and How to Avoid Committing Them

College life is often portrayed as a time of academic growth, personal development, and newfound independence. However, amidst the excitement and freedom, a reality exists that many students may not anticipate: the potential for encountering legal issues. College campuses can be breeding grounds for various legal infractions, whether due to youthful indiscretion, peer pressure, or lack of awareness.

From underage drinking and drug possession to identity theft and dangerous behavior, the spectrum of college crimes is broad and varied. Students who fail to recognize the gravity of these offenses may face serious legal consequences that could have long-lasting ramifications.

If a college student is accused of a crime, seeking legal guidance becomes imperative. Consulting with a defense lawyer handling college-related legal matters can provide support and representation. These professionals are well-versed in navigating the complexities of the legal system. They can offer personalized guidance tailored to the unique circumstances of each case.

With offices conveniently located in Iowa City and Davenport, Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger offers comprehensive representation to students needing legal help. Contact us at (319) 499-5524 today.

Legal Violations Among College Students

As college students embark on their academic journeys, they often navigate a unique blend of newfound freedom, academic rigor, and social opportunities. Amidst this whirlwind of experiences lies the potential for encountering legal issues that can have far-reaching consequences. Whether it's a night out with friends, a lapse in judgment, or an unfortunate misunderstanding, college life can sometimes lead individuals to cross legal boundaries inadvertently.

Understanding the common college crimes that students may encounter is crucial, as it empowers individuals to make informed decisions and avoid situations that could land them on the wrong side of the law.

Underage Drinking and Alcohol-Related Offenses

College campuses often serve as a backdrop for social gatherings and festivities, with alcohol frequently playing a central role in these events. However, for students under the legal drinking age, indulging in alcoholic beverages can have profound legal implications. In Iowa, the laws regarding underage drinking are outlined in Iowa Code § 123.47, which prohibits individuals under the legal drinking age from buying, possessing, or consuming alcohol.

The repercussions of alcohol-related offenses can range from fines and completion of a substance disorder evaluation to more severe penalties such as driver's license suspension.

To mitigate the risks associated with underage drinking, college students should prioritize responsible alcohol consumption practices. This includes knowing their limits, avoiding binge drinking, and making informed decisions. Furthermore, students should familiarize themselves with alternative social activities that don't involve alcohol and consider surrounding themselves with peers who prioritize their well-being and safety.

Drug Possession and Distribution

With the prevalence of drug use on campuses, students need to be aware of the laws governing controlled substances and the potential ramifications of involvement with drugs.

Drug laws are codified in Iowa Code § 124.401, which prohibits the manufacturing, delivering, and possessing of controlled substances.

These substances include but are not limited to:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Prescription medications obtained without a valid prescription

The consequences of drug possession and distribution can be severe, ranging from fines and probation to incarceration. The length of confinement and the cost of fines depend on the case's specific circumstances, with more substantial penalties imposed for larger quantities or more dangerous drugs.

To avoid drug involvement, college students should prioritize making informed and responsible choices. This tactic includes avoiding association with individuals involved in drug-related activities, refraining from experimenting with drugs, and seeking alternative forms of recreation and stress relief. Additionally, students should educate themselves about the dangers of drug use and the resources available for addressing substance abuse issues.

Fake IDs and Identity Theft

In an environment where access to age-restricted venues and services is often desired, many students may be tempted to use fake identification. However, the fraudulent use of others' personal information can lead to legal trouble and lasting repercussions.

Using a fake ID to misrepresent one's age or identity violates Iowa Code § 715A.8, which prohibits the fraudulent use of someone else's identification information to obtain something of value or benefit.

Personal information includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license number
  • Student identification number
  • Electronic identifier or screen name
  • Credit card number

The legal penalties for possessing or using fake identification can be severe, potentially resulting in fines, probation, and even imprisonment.

To avoid the pitfalls of fake IDs and identity theft, college students should take proactive measures to protect their personal information and refrain from engaging in illegal activities, such as using fake IDs.

Sexual Abuse and Consent Violations

In college environments, where social interactions and relationships abound, students must have a clear understanding of sexual assault laws and the importance of respecting consent and boundaries.

Sexual abuse is defined under Iowa Code § 709.1, encompassing any sexual act performed by force or against the other person's will. This conduct includes situations where consent is obtained through threats of violence or coercion, as well as instances where the other person is unable to give consent due to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Understanding the concept of consent is crucial for navigating intimate relationships and interactions. Consent must be freely given, enthusiastic, and informed. It can be revoked at any time. Individuals need to communicate openly and honestly with their partners, respect their boundaries, and seek affirmative consent before engaging in any sexual activity. Additionally, being aware of power dynamics, cultural norms, and the influence of drugs or alcohol can help prevent misunderstandings and mitigate the risk of consent violations.


Hazing remains a persistent issue on college campuses despite efforts to eradicate it. Iowa Code § 708.10 prohibits intentional or reckless engagement in acts that endanger the health and safety of students as part of an initiation ritual for any organization connected to a school, college, or university.

The consequences of participating in or facilitating hazing activities can be severe. Under Iowa law, hazing is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by jail time and/or fines. However, if the hazing results in serious bodily injury to a participant, the offense is elevated to a serious misdemeanor, carrying more stringent penalties.

Recognizing and reporting hazing incidents is essential for preventing future harm and promoting accountability. Students, faculty, and administrators must work together to create a culture of zero tolerance for hazing and provide avenues for reporting and addressing incidents promptly and effectively.

Safeguarding Your Future with Legal Help

Knowing the laws and regulations that govern our actions is essential for making sound choices and avoiding potential legal pitfalls. Whether refraining from underage drinking, steering clear of drug-related activities, respecting boundaries in interpersonal relationships, or rejecting participation in hazing rituals, actions have real consequences that can shape academic and professional trajectories.

If you need legal assistance or advice in Iowa City or Davenport, please get in touch with Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger by calling (319) 499-5524.

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