Graduation is just days away, and you have a bad case of senioritis. You and your buddies were ready for summer three months ago. But before you leave school, you thought it would be hilarious to play one final joke on the school. You think of it as “your legacy.” You’d just love to see the look on the principal’s face when she comes in Monday morning and finds the school’s mascot has been torched. Or maybe you and your friends decided to graffiti a few choice thoughts about school on the new building addition.

But you weren’t expecting to get caught.

Now, you and your friends face suspension–right before graduation. In addition, you’ve been slapped with criminal damage to property charges. And your parents are none too happy about the prospect of a civil suit against them to pay for the damage you caused.

What can you do?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is essential that you contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your defense. Maybe the school failed to follow correct procedure before they expelled you. Maybe you didn’t take part in the prank and just happened to be there. Maybe the school lacks sufficient evidence to show you did anything wrong. Even if they have you on video lighting the fire or spraying the graffiti, an experienced attorney might be able to work out a deal with the school. For example, maybe the school would let you graduate if you paid back the damage.

Because the standard of proof in a criminal case is higher than in a school proceeding, an attorney may help you avoid a criminal record. Depending on your role, you might be eligible for a reduced penalty, or you might be able to avoid a criminal conviction.

If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com for advice.