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Party Myths

Myth: PSU police aren't real cops

University police in Pennsylvania have the same powers, authority, and responsibilities as municipal police officers. Short answer: They can arrest you.

Myth: A great place to smoke marijuana is my dorm room/the Arboretum/the fields.

Students get caught. All. The. Time.

Myth: What happens in at Penn State stays at Penn State.

Nope. That's Vegas. Being convicted of any crime can hurt your chances of finding a job after graduation or pursuing a graduate or professional degree. Employers are increasingly relying on background checks on prospective employees. With some crimes, you risk jail time or expulsion.

Myth: I was just holding the beer/joint/pipe for my friend.

Under the law, if you are holding an illegal item, or are keeping it in your room or apartment, you are in possession. Possession is not the same as ownership, but just as illegal.

Myth: Fake IDs are no big deal.

Using false identification or providing a fake name to a police officer can be a misdemeanor. It can mean jail time, a record, and fines. As an honesty crime, it can render you ineligible for some jobs, like working for a bank.

Myth: You have to be over 21 to get in trouble for furnishing

If you furnish alcohol to minors, you risk jail, fines, and a record. You can get busted for this even if you are under 21 too.

Myth: It's a summary citation. I can ignore this.

You have 10 days from the date the citation was issued to enter a plea. If you fail to respond, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Also, in some cases, your driver's license can be suspended if you fail to respond to a traffic citation. 

Myth: I was drunk. I didn't know what I was doing.

In Pennsylvania, voluntary intoxication is rarely a defense to a crime. You are generally responsible for everything you do when you are drunk.

Myth: I got caught, so I should just plead guilty.

There are often more choices than just 'guilty' or 'not guilty,' especially for first offenses. University Park and Commonwealth Campus students can access free & confidential legal services at Student Legal Services.

Myth: Possession of marijuana was decriminalized in State College.

Not true! State College enacted an ordinance that allows officers to charge possession of a small amount or paraphernalia as a summary ordinance violation (which still carries a fine and creates a record!). Possession of a small amount or marijuana or paraphernalia is still illegal in Pennsylvania, and Borough officers still have the discretion to charge it as a misdemeanor. Anywhere on campus and anywhere in State College that is outside the Borough limits will always be charged as a misdemeanor.

Reviewed: April 19, 2024