In the internet age, access to your personal and private information is more readily accessible than ever. Speaking from experience, we all do things in college that are not very smart and that we are not proud of. Many of you will be lucky enough to not get caught but, for the unlucky who do, you need to protect yourself.
You may be charged or arrested for a crime that does not appear all that serious like an open container, public intoxication or minor in possession of alcohol. These type offenses are normally Class C misdemeanors that do not carry any potential jail time and only have a relatively small fine attached. Many of you will simply contact the justice of the peace, pay the fine and move on. While this is a cheap and easy way to resolve the matter, you may have just permanently attached the charge to your criminal record.
More and more employers are taking advantage of the ease the internet provides in running background checks and other searches for personal information about potential employees. With the competition for good jobs, scholarships, grants, spots in grad schools, etc. getting fiercer each day, you cannot afford to have a criminal record.
I cannot tell you the number of former students who have contacted me in the process of applying for a new job, switching jobs or even competing for a promotion at their current jobs only to learn that old public intoxication charge from college that they had originally thought nothing about is showing up on a criminal history report and causing them problems. Most of them, I have to give the bad news that there is nothing that can be done.
Time is of the essence with these charges. If you choose to simply pay the fine and move on, the options available to later remove the charge from your record become very limited and in most cases there is nothing that can be done. If you find yourself charged with any criminal offense, no matter how minor it may seem, I encourage you to contact an attorney to assist you.