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What impact can a juvenile offense have on college admittance?

While being charged with possession of marijuana or related offenses as a juvenile may seem like no big deal, the ramifications of such a conviction can be far-reaching. It is unfortunate when the blunders of youth hinder opportunity in adulthood because even really good teens in New Jersey can make a mistake from time to time.

After the Virginia Tech massacre six years ago, colleges and universities began taking more precautions with criminal background checks and pre-admission screening questions regarding criminal activity for students looking to gain admittance. The aim of these efforts was to more readily identify potential students possibly prone to committing violence or other criminal activity on campus.

This can mean that some teens are denied the opportunity to further their education for some juvenile offenses. However, a recent report that delved into criminal behavior on campuses across the country yielded some interesting results.

The lead author says in conclusion of the findings, "In an effort to reduce campus crime, more than half of all American colleges ask applicants about their criminal histories or require criminal background checks. But there is no real evidence to show this reduces campus crime."

While students with a criminal history prior to entering college were slightly more likely to be charged with misconduct during college, most students with juvenile offenses on their record do not go on to reoffend:

  • Of individuals charged with misconduct, only 3.3 percent report any juvenile offenses
  • Of juvenile offenders that go to college, only 8.5 percent incur a misconduct charge during college

Even though most juvenile offenders are not likely to engage in further criminal behavior later in life, the consequences of a juvenile offense can result in denied opportunities. An attorney with experience handling juvenile crimes can help a charged individual defend against these risks.

Source:, “Criminal background checks don’t predict college crime,” May 19, 2013

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