Every new college student should know about drugs. Not just why they're bad for you but also some of the surprising ways that they can cause you serious legal and financial trouble. This is what you should know.
1.) It doesn't matter if the drugs aren't yours.
Most new college students end up with roommates that they didn't even know prior to the start of the school year. Some of those roommates may use drugs recreationally or habitually—they may even sell them. While you're probably tempted to turn a blind eye to drug use in your dorm room or student apartment, that's risking a lot—because if your roommate is busted, you probably will be too under the laws of constructive possession.
To establish a constructive possession charge, the prosecution only has to show that you knew that there were illegal drugs somewhere on the premises and that you had the ability to maintain dominion and control over those drugs. In other words, you could have gotten physical possession of the drugs if you had tried.
That means simply knowing that your roommate has a stash of pot under his mattress or a bag of pills in the top dresser drawer is enough to convict you of drug charges too.
2.) You can face charges even if the police don't actually find drugs.
Most people don't realize that the mere possession of "drug paraphernalia" is also illegal and can bring a drug charge even when actual drugs aren't found. That means that obvious things, like a hookah or a crack pipe, are enough to get you charged with a drug offense.
So are a surprising number of other, ordinary items, like plastic baggies, food scales, empty 2-liter soda bottles, and unused latex balloons. While every state has its specific laws, all of these items have been used to ingest, transport, manufacture, and sell drugs.
In some states, a drug possession charge can be added if any of these items test positive for drugs. For example, if your roommate's hookah, which was sold legally to smoke flavored tobacco, tests positive for hashish residue, you can be charged with drug possession. If you're on a road trip with your college buddies and a crack pipe is found under the passenger seat you were in, you could be held responsible both for a possession and a paraphernalia charge.
3.) You can face serious financial hardship over a drug charge.
Drugs aren't nearly as expensive as the fines and court fees you'll have to pay if you're charged with a drug-related offense. For example, in California, a conviction for the possession of drug paraphernalia can cost you a fine of up to $1,000. In addition, any federal or state drug conviction can disqualify you from receiving federal student aid grants and loans—which most students depend on to make it through college.
The best thing to do is to avoid the whole scenario. However, if you make a mistake, contact Attorney John F Obrien or a similar legal professional.