Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in Indiana

If someone has pled guilty of a misdemeanor and paid their debt to society, can a college or university legally exclude them from entry? 19 year old girl was arrested for possession of drug paraphanalia and had minor amounts of marijuana ashes. This will lead to a plea of guilty, which will put a misdemeanor on her record. She is a brilliant student. The concern is graduate schools will reject her application based on this issue. My question is, can they?

Asked on 10/23/11, 6:42 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Aaron Butler Aaron J. Butler, Attorney at Law

Yes, they can. College admissions are very discretionary. Just like an application can be rejected arbitrarily for any other reason, a criminal history can be a factor. There is certainly no law prohibiting colleges from considering criminal history when weighing an applicant's background.

Realistically, however, it won't be the only factor. One won't be doomed to a life without higher education due to a misdemeanor paraphernalia conviction. But it is a negative mark against a person.

A criminal defense attorney can help an accused person in this type of situation get the best shot at things like pretrial diversion or dismissal of negative charges. Simply pleading guilty will give up any chance at such things.

Also, there is a chance to seal this record after a certain amount of time has passed, or to request that the matter be re-opened and the charges dropped. Assuming the person stays out of further trouble either of those are possible options, with the help of an attorney.

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Answered on 10/23/11, 9:50 am

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