What to do if your college kid gets arrested on spring break

With spring fast approaching, so is spring break for Missouri colleges. Your college student is probably gearing up for a week of fun and relaxation. It may also be likely that your son or daughter will be partying or engaging in other activities that can lead to trouble.

As a parent, what do you do when your college kid gets arrested? What if it happens in another state? Become familiar with the answer now to avoid making a mistake when the time comes.

How to respond

After you get the phone call notifying you of the arrest, take these preliminary steps:

  • Post bail: You can release your son or daughter from jail by posting bail. The amount depends on the charges. If you cannot afford it, a bail bond company can pay it for a fee. 
  • Call an attorney: If your college kid has not done so already, call a criminal defense attorney with experience in the area the charges are in to discuss your options and a strategy. The sooner you meet with a lawyer, the better.
  • Support your child: Your college student may not understand the lifelong implications of a criminal record, whether it entails an arrest or a felony conviction. Encourage your child to cooperate, to stay out of further trouble and to follow legal advice for the best outcome. It is much harder to expunge a criminal record than it is to avoid a conviction. However, with recent changes in law, an expungement is not impossible if necessary.
  • Get professional help if needed: If the charges were for something like illegal drugs or drunk driving, and you discover the problem is more serious than you thought (especially for a first-time offense), get professional help for your son or daughter to prevent further issues in the future.

Out-of-state arrests

When the arrest occurs in a place that is not your child’s home state, it is best to hire a lawyer in the state where the arrest happens. With misdemeanor charges, a local lawyer may be able to make court appearances so your college student does not have to stay there and miss school, work and other obligations.