Law Offices of Swanton & Frederick
Defending Your Rights, Protecting Your Future
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For Parents & Students

A Helpful Guide To Protecting The Future

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For Parents And Students

A Guide To Protecting The Future

Growing up often means learning from your mistakes, but we don’t want those mistakes to hurt your child’s future. As you send your child off to college, here’s a guide for parents and students on how to protect the student in some areas they might encounter in college and help them make the right decisions.

 

You never expect your child to be in trouble when they go off to college. I would want to know that there is someone who cares and is working hard to protect their future.

 

Teaching your child to know their surroundings and be mindful of their actions is an important first step. It’s also important to understand that their digital presence online can rarely be truly deleted or erased. Arm your child with the knowledge of what their rights are in different areas of the law, whether they are in the right or wrong, as well as what they need to do if something unfortunate were to happen to them. While we hope that your child will never need legal assistance, we’ve outlined what your family would need to know in case they are arrested. Pass this along to your child and keep it marked for future reminders.

 
•    Your Digital Presence Can Rarely Be Truly Deleted Or Erased

Everything you, or your online friends, post creates a digital presence. On good days, this historical view of your life can showcase the high points of your life and build a personal brand that portrays your unique personality. On bad days, it can showcase every mistake you might have made, be misconstrued by others, including future employers, and be held against you in a court of law. Even if you think a statement or photo has disappeared, our phones and the internet have better long term memories than we do. We could do an entire seminar on the risk of digital evidence and how the things you say, write and do on the internet can come back to haunt you. Discussing this issue with your student may assist them in understanding what to post and not post online, what type of sites are dangerous to visit and how to guard against others having access to your online accounts. These can be very valuable lifelong lessons.


•    Be Aware Of Your Surroundings And Be Mindful Of Your Actions

College parties can be a lot of fun, but they can also be full of risk. Our experience in representing many students over the years teaches us that colleges are becoming more and more concerned about students’ use of alcohol and drugs.  Talk to your child about being cautious when going to events with which they are not familiar or where they are with a lot of people they don’t know. There is typically a lot of activity going on in the room at these kinds of events, so students need to be aware of the potential consequence of all of their actions, including underage drinking. Generally speaking, you must be 21 years of age or older to drink alcohol in the State of Texas. Receiving a Class C citation for a Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) or a Minor in Consumption of Alcohol (MIC) can be a risk at a typical college party in Texas.


•    Know Your Rights - Whether You Are In The Right Or Wrong.

We hear it on TV all the time, but if in the unfortunate situation you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to speak to a lawyer before answering any questions by law enforcement. Help your student know that anything they say to the police, their friends, the school, and even you, can be held against them. We understand that the natural inclination is that people want to create an appearance of being honest and cooperative, but saying things early on in the process can often lead to more trouble down the road. Have them talk to a lawyer before making any statements to authorities. The only communication that is private, protected, and privileged is that between a client and a lawyer. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will listen and provide sound advice, help them navigate the next steps and fight for the best outcome possible.


•    Be Prepared - Have Experienced Local Lawyers On Your Side

Time is of the essence if your child finds himself or herself charged with criminal conduct and you want to make sure your child has the best defense possible. We think it is important to acquaint yourself with an experienced criminal defense attorney in the town or general geographic area in which your child goes to school. We often get inquiries from parents who live out of Waco or the Central Texas area and Waco or this area has become a new place in which their child now resides. Local lawyers have the benefit of knowing the local system, the courthouse personnel and who people are individually, not just their position. We have almost 60 years of combined legal experience and have developed relationships with the law enforcement officers, attorneys who work in the local District Attorney’s Offices and the judges who often make final decisions in criminal cases. We would be happy to be that resource for you in Waco or the Central Texas area. Before you drop your child off at college, take the time to plan for a potential problem. You don’t necessarily need a lawyer on retainer, but at least know an experienced local attorney you can contact in an emergency.


•    Know The Boundaries As A Parent Of A Child Who Has Reached Adulthood

Parents are always welcome at meetings with us so we can inform them about what their child should expect to experience if charged with some kind of criminal conduct. Going through the process, communications with the client/student are privileged, so you may not be able to always sit in on all interviews with the student. We always ask students if they would like us to talk to their parents about some information relevant to the case and we are always happy to keep the parents fully informed of any such information as long as we are not asked to reveal information that may hurt the student’s case. We want to make sure that you understand both the criminal justice process and the potential school disciplinary process. Protect your child by getting them connected with a good criminal lawyer immediately. Remember that anything your child tells you is not privileged and can potentially be used in the case, especially if it’s a call from jail which are always recorded. Find a lawyer that will treat your child as an individual, not just a name on a file, and who cares about their future. That way you can rest assured that they have a knowledgeable advocate defending their rights and working for the best possible outcome.


•    Some General Information About DUI/DWI

The acronyms DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) refer to similar conduct: driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This can be a complicated and burdensome area of the law. Generally speaking, a DUI charge involves someone under the age of 21 and is a Class C misdemeanor in the State of Texas. A DWI charge can involve someone of any age and is typically a Class A or B misdemeanor. A conviction for these types of offenses can result in a variety of unfavorable consequences for your student, including jail time, suspension of their license, fines, surcharges, probation, disciplinary consequences at their university, and an increase in car insurance premiums. Talk with your student about these potential consequences. If your child is stopped for drinking, he or she should be compliant and polite but avoid saying more than is needed. In the event that your child has been drinking, we generally advise against taking a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test. While every parent hopes their child will make the right decisions, mistakes happen. Talk to your child about what to do if they are stopped for drinking as a preventative measure. If your child finds themselves facing a criminal charge of this nature, be proactive and seek legal representation immediately.


•    Educate Yourself About Title IX And Possible Consequences

Title IX proceedings in university settings have become an increasing area of concern for students and parents. These proceedings can have major implications and consequences in both the university disciplinary process and the criminal justice process. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Generally speaking, students can be confronted with Title IX cases when there are allegations of sexual violence, assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking or other sexually inappropriate conduct. While Title IX proceedings are technically not criminal proceedings, the process can quickly evolve into interaction with law enforcement and the possible investigation of criminal complaints. The process can be very time consuming for the student and his or her family. It is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced attorney before making any statements or responses to university officials or law enforcement. Learn More


•    Understand How An Arrest Can Affect The School Disciplinary Process

Many universities, including Baylor, have their own disciplinary system and a criminal offense is typically a violation of the student code of conduct for the university. There are procedures provided by the university which are separate and apart from the criminal court. Your student should not discuss the case with judicial affairs officials and make admissions until they have talked to an attorney. The District Attorney’s office can have access to this information and can use it in the case against your student. It is helpful for your student to find a lawyer that understands the university procedures and requirements and can help them navigate through that system. We have assisted many students in this process.


•    What To Do If Arrested

First and foremost, be respectful. The best way to protect yourself after arrest is to not talk to anyone about the case. Your communications with a lawyer are privileged, meaning they are private and protected. They can't be used against you. Your communications with any other person can be used against you. Most phone calls  from the jail are recorded, listened to, given to the government. So talking about anything related to the allegations against you can be harmful. It's not uncommon for people to call to try to get help bonding out and start talking about their case to their family, their parents, or their friends, explaining why they have been arrested. Even that conduct can be harmful and those words can be used against them. Next, call a good experienced criminal defense lawyer. Find someone that is willing to listen and understand your situation. We are dedicated to be your advocate. We will walk you through the process, help you know your rights, and make sure that with each step of the way we are defending your rights and protecting your future.


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Find out about how Title IX can affect your student here.