The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

83° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Underage and in trouble with the law? Here’s how your interaction with UAPD may go down

Simon Asher

The UA, for the most part, is populated with students over the age of 18. But for the small number of minors who make their way onto campus before their 18th birthday, their interactions with the University of Arizona Police Department go down slightly different than their of-age counterparts.

Minors who are university students are mostly treated like any other university student, with just a few exceptions. For example, UAPD has to notify the student’s parents when an incident occurs, according to Rene Hernandez, UAPD crime prevention officer.

Students who are minors can be diverted just like any other student, but other kinds of arrests can result in that student being taken to a juvenile detention center for a court date instead of the adult court.

READ: UA’s Good Samaritan Policy tries to take the fear out of calling 911

“We’re going to take into account how old they are, how far away they are from turning 18 and if they’re a few months away versus they just turned 17,” Hernandez said. “Those are circumstances that would help us come to the determination of how we’re going to treat them—if they’re going to be a diversion or in custody or if they’re under arrest.”

The Dean of Students website classifies misdemeanor violations as eligible for diversion, including minor in possession of alcohol, possession of drugs or paraphernalia, possession of false identification, disorderly conduct, theft and littering. However, it states that not all misdemeanors are eligible for diversion.

UA students who are minors are also subject to being caught committing status offenses, which is an offense that is legal for someone over 18 but illegal for a minor. Hernandez cited smoking cigarettes as an example.

“We tell people that are 17, you know, you’re here in college, you’re going to be an adult soon—just use common sense,” Hernandez said. “Make the best decisions possible for yourself so you’re not in a position where we have to intervene and make a decision for you.”

Jackie Arnold, a communication junior,doesn’t agree with UAPD’s policies that university students who are minors are treated like other students.

“Minors should not be held to the same standard as adults because they’re still children as of the law, and it’s not reasonable to hold them to the same standards as other college students,” Arnold said.

According to Hernandez, it’s pretty rare for minors to be arrested, since the majority of UA students are at least 18. He said that the primary reason minors come in is for minor in possession charges, which usually results in diversion. Serious crimes like assault are the ones that generally could land a minor in jail.

In some cases, when the parents can’t be reached because it’s the middle of the night, those minor students who came in for a misdemeanor have to be transported to a juvenile detention center until UAPD can get a hold of the parents to tell them what is happening.

Hernandez said that usually the minor has friends who are of age who will take care of the student and make sure he or she is OK before that happens.

“We try not to take them to jail because it’s a bummer,” Hernandez said. “It’s a big thing to do; it’s tedious and time consuming. We don’t want to do that. We want to make sure they understand that what they did was wrong and get them back to school and on to studying.”

Follow Leah Merrall on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search