DUI LAYWER

Summerville · Moncks Corner · Goose Creek · Charleston

People charged, and often times their parents, never think about student financial aid in relation to a criminal charge.  I have quite a few people call to ask about what seem to be relatively insignificant charges. The question always seems to be whether they should just pay the fine or should they hire an attorney.
I can’t always honestly tell someone that it is economically feasible to hire an attorney for every situation.  However, more times than not, people don’t realize the collateral consequences of a guilty plea.
One of the consequences that people never seem to think about is scholarship money and other financial aid. Most scholarships have requirements that relate to convictions.  The question is, what criminal convictions really matter?
There are three scholarships in South Carolina that I want to address here: the LIFE scholarship, the HOPE scholarship and the Palmetto Fellows scholarship.
The LIFE scholarship can provide up to $7,500 per year in college funding.  The Palmetto Fellows scholarship offers up to $10,000 for college funding, and finally the HOPE scholarship offers up to $2,800.  All three of them have requirements that relate to criminal convictions.
Currently, the requirements for all three of them are about the same. First of all, the applicant must not have been adjudicated delinquent (convicted as a juvenile), nor have been convicted of any felony in any state.  And secondly, the applicant must not have any “second” alcohol or drug related misdemeanor in any state for 12 months prior to the award.  I have set forth the statutes below that address each one.

LIFE Scholarship Requirements:

SECTION 59-149-90. Adjudication of delinquency or for drug or alcohol offenses; additional degrees.
(A) Students must not have been adjudicated delinquent or been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felonies or any second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related offenses under the laws of this or any other state or under the laws of the United States in order to be eligible for a LIFE Scholarship, except that a high school or college student otherwise qualified who has been adjudicated delinquent or has been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related misdemeanor offense nevertheless shall be eligible or continue to be eligible for such scholarships after the expiration of one academic year from the date of the adjudication, conviction, or plea.

HOPE Scholarship Requirements

 
62-900.95. Student Eligibility.
(A). To be eligible for a SC HOPE Scholarship, the student must: …

(5). Certify that he/she has never been adjudicated delinquent, convicted, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felonies and/or any second or subsequent alcohol/drug related misdemeanor offenses under the laws of this or any other state or under the laws of the United States by submitting a signed affidavit each academic year to the institution testifying to the fact. However, a high school or college student who has been adjudicated delinquent, convicted, or pled guilty or nolo contendere of a second alcohol or other drug related misdemeanor offense is ineligible for the next academic year of enrollment at an eligible institution after the date of the adjudication, conviction or plea. If the adjudication, conviction, or plea occurs during the academic year after the student has already submitted a signed affidavit to the institution, the student is still eligible for the Scholarship for the remainder of the academic year. However, the student will not be eligible to receive the LIFE Scholarship the following fall, spring, and summer terms (or their equivalent), even if all other eligibility requirements have been met. If a student completes a pretrial intervention program and has his/her record expunged, the conviction will not affect Scholarship eligibility;

Palmetto Fellows Scholarship

 
SECTION 59-104-20. Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Program established; adjudication of delinquency; drug and alcohol offenses.
(B) Students, either new or continuing, must not have been adjudicated delinquent or been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to any felonies or any second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related offenses under the laws of this or any other state or under the laws of the United States in order to be eligible for a Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, except that a high school or college student otherwise qualified who has been adjudicated delinquent or has been convicted or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a second or subsequent alcohol or drug-related misdemeanor offense nevertheless shall be eligible or continue to be eligible for such scholarships after the expiration of one academic year from the date of the adjudication, conviction, or plea.

Many times people charged with an open container  or another simple offense will simply pay the fine without regard to the collateral consequences, especially consequences surrounding scholarship money. If you are charged with an offense and are going to college, currently enrolled in college, or thinking about going to college, you really need to consider the additional consequences of the offense.
An attorney for a magistrate of municipal level offense sometimes seems expensive in comparison to the fine that would be assessed. But remember, the fine is not always the end of the case.  If you or your son or daughter has been charged with what seems to be a relatively minor offense, please consider the other consequences that surround a conviction, including the consequences relating to student loans, scholarships, and other financial aid.  The loss of a $10,000 scholarship is much more costly than hiring an attorney to attempt a resolution that may avoid these issues.

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