Hundreds of underage college students in the Philadelphia area could be facing disciplinary action after being caught with fake IDs in a bar. While the massive bust happened off-campus, there are some colleges that have disciplinary policies that will still sanction students, anyway.
Police Bust Hundreds of Students With Fake IDs
In an apparently impromptu police sting, over a dozen police officers descended on a bar near Philadelphia near Villanova University and Bryn Mawr College on Friday, October 11. Inside Flip & Bailey's, there were around 300 patrons, most of them from area colleges.
When police asked patrons to show their IDs, many of them tried getting out of the bar. When they saw that the exits were all blocked off by police, some of the younger patrons dropped their fake IDs or tried disposing of them in the trash or by flushing them down the toilet.
In all, out of the approximately 300 bar patrons, police issued 254 citations for underage drinking and carrying fake identification.
Apparently, the owners of the bar were the ones who reached out to the police. They had become concerned that local college kids had found a way to get around their ID scanners. While the underage patrons were giving them lots of business, the owners wanted to make sure they were not held liable or face charges for serving alcohol to people who were underage.
Alcohol Policies Vary Widely Between Colleges
A topic that is often closely examined and discussed in most college handbooks and student policies is alcohol. Because the drinking age in America is 21, colleges have to pay close attention to underage students who want to party and drink.
Most of this attention concerns drinking that happens on-campus. However, the terms of some student conduct policies could stretch to include conduct that happens off-campus, so long as it is done by a student.
Bryn Mawr could, in theory, be one of these schools. Its 2018-2019 Student Handbook does not specify, at all, where its scope of control ends. It only forbids underage drinking in all of its forms.
Other student handbooks are more refined and precise, laying out where its rules on alcohol consumption begin and where they end. Villanova University is one such school, and it's 2019-2020 Code of Conduct specifically states that "The University reserves the right to sanction students who violate the law and/or the above University alcohol policies (both on and off campus)."
Off-Campus Misdemeanors Can Hurt Academic Progress
When they happen off-campus, though, underage drinking and carrying a fake ID can be crimes. In Pennsylvania, repeat offenses of either crime are misdemeanors. While they will typically not appear on an academic transcript, 18 to 21 year olds cannot benefit from the juvenile justice system – misdemeanors and even summary offenses will appear on your criminal background unless you avoid an adverse disposition, often through a pretrial diversion program or a negotiated resolution with the Court and the District Attorney's Office. If a person is caught with a fake ID in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Summary Diversion program can offer a good outcome, and with the help of a private attorney, the charge can be expunged immediately after the case is withdrawn.
If an adverse disposition is avoided after being charged with a crime, that is a great outcome, but it is important to understand that the charge itself will still remain on Pennsylvania court dockets unless expunged. If a person pleads guilty (or pays the fine which is the same as pleading guilty) or is found guilty, a person can seek an expungement after waiting 5 years in cases involving summary offenses or a record sealing after waiting 10 years in cases involving misdemeanors.
Overcoming a past conviction for underage drinking is something that lots of people have done as they move through college and into graduate school. Because a fake ID charge is considered a crime of dishonesty, overcoming one for carrying a fake ID is more difficult.
Joseph D. Lento: Student Defense Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a lawyer who helps students accused of disciplinary violations show that they are innocent. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.