Need advice for DS's alcohol-related incident

Discussion in 'ROTC' started by MidshipmanParent, May 11, 2018.

  1. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    Hello, I was hoping someone could give me some advice regarding an alcohol-related incident my DS was just involved in. He is a midshipman with a 4-year NROTC scholarship. He just finished his 3rd year -- in the fall he will be a 1st class Midshipman, he is supposed to Commission in one year. He has been a stellar midshipman up until this incident -- no issues at all: he was given a national engineering award at the end-of-year NROTC ceremony in his unit; for next fall he was given a major leadership role in the unit; he gets straight A's; is on the Dean's list at his university; he maxes out on all the PT tests; he was just accepted into the Mortar Board Honor Society at his university; he got an awesome engineering internship for this summer before and after his summer cruise; he volunteers at the local high school as an assistant wrestling coach; and he does engineering research in one of the research labs at his university on top of all his studies. Here is what happened: when my DS finished up everything for the school year yesterday, he and some of his friends very stupidly decided to throw a party at the house where my DS rents a room. This is the first party my DS has ever thrown -- he never does this sort of thing, never goes to parties and doesn't drink (up until yesterday he had always been very responsible and abiding regarding the NROTC prohibitions on alcohol), but on this occasion, he very stupidly felt that since it was a long exhausting year and he and all his friends ended it so well academically, they wanted to celebrate. My DS stupidly ended up drinking at the party and there was alcohol being served in the house. The police ended up coming to the house because it was late at night and they were playing loud music, and, since it was my DS's house, and he honestly said it was his party, my DS was given misdemeanor charges for possession of alcohol and underage drinking (he is 20) and serving alcohol. (He hasn't received the charges yet, the police are supposed to mail it to him.) He was not arrested, and he immediately went to his unit to report the incident. He knows he is in big trouble, and he totally regrets what he did (he feels so horrible, he is in really bad shape mentally right now). He says he will have to go before a performance review board (PRB) at his unit. The officers at his unit said they will figure out what will happen once my DS receives the misdemeanor charge paperwork in the mail. I am hoping and praying he will not be disenrolled. Regarding the misdemeanor charges my DS will get a court date and will hopefully be able to get the charges reduced to something less than a misdemeanor by the judge given his good record and since this is his first offense, but I figure that is no guarantee. He has already retained the services of a local attorney who is experienced in this sort of thing. (Luckily, my DS volunteers for the local high school wrestling team as an assistant coach, and the coach knew of a good attorney for him.) My DS is also proactively going to take an alcohol awareness counseling class that he can show the judge (and maybe show at the PRB hearing). Is there anyone out there with any experience with this sort of thing that could give some advice? Is it likely he will be disenrolled? Is there anything else my DS should do besides what I describe above? How will this affect his career? Any advice is very much appreciated.
     
  2. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    In all reality there is not much he can do, it's good that he has retained a lawyer. All he can do right now is wait and see how thing progress and then he and his attorney will chart the best course.
     
  3. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    Okay, thank you.
     
  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Agree with Jcleppe. It's hard to say how this will go. I know of folks who avoided dis-enrollment, but only the school was involved and not the police. I know of folks who avoided it with other misdemeanors prior to enrolling in NROTC, but that doesn't fit your son's situation. I know of folks with DUIs who were immediately tossed from the program, but that doesn't fit your son either.

    He sounds remorseful and he should express that at the PRB. I think he has a shot at not being dis-enrolled since he's taking the right steps and he has been such a stellar midshipman. All this might save him but there are no guarantees in life.

    Smack him up side the head for me! :D He'll need to walk the straight and narrow from here on out even when he's of age.
     
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  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    Your son is doing all the right things. Much will depend on current policies, precedent and local leadership.

    I dealt with many cases of very bad decision-making when I was on AD, and often while on USNA Commandant’s staff. I often saw heart-breaking cases of “Good mids can do bad things.” Regardless of actions taken, good leaders feel these very deeply, and wonder why their emphasis on avoiding these decisions did not “take.”

    The closer they are to commissioning, the worse it is - from leadership’s perspective, why commission someone who consciously chose to do these things, knowing the impact the actions could have on their own careers as well as others? How can we trust that person with Sailors, Marines and multi-million dollar gear in just a few months or a year? He had a choice not to do this, yet he did. If he had done this in HS, would he have gotten a NROTC scholarship or into USNA? Probably not. He is older now and presumably knew better. Those thoughts are the challenging ones.

    In cases like this, the leadership will weigh what’s right for the Navy (current policies), what the current precedent is and what precedents might be set by this case, and what’s right for the midshipman (past record of “good mid” stuff that mitigates). If there has been a rash of alcohol-related incidents across NROTC, or it’s a new PNS setting his or her hardline precedent as a deterrent to others, stand by for example-making.

    The leadership may or may not have flexibility to retain him. The court case outcome will be critical.

    He’s doing all the right things now, and I have no doubt this has been a shocking lesson to him. This is the kind of decision that will have secondary and tertiary consequences.

    I wish you the best. Your son is still the same young man who has generally been a good mid. How he deals with this, regardless of the outcome, will be the true test of his character. If he is retained, I suggest he offer to speak to the other classes of midshipmen in peer coaching about alcohol-related choices and his own experience.
     
  6. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    CaptMJ: that is a FANTASTIC response. Agree 100%. As you note, this is not necessarily a black/ white issue. Local leadership, unit culture, precedent and other things weigh in here as do the outcomes of the civil proceedings.

    OP: Compliments to your DS for taking the offensive and getting out in front of this scenario. Too often, we see excuses and appeals for how to avoid taking responsibilities for one's action. I trust your DS will learn a valuable life lesson no matter how this turns out.
     
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  7. max5757

    max5757 Member

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    Good advice above from the other posters including CaptMJ. I've seen many of these cases (as a former prosecutor) and it's good that you engaged an attorney. The judge won't decide - it will be the local jurisdiction - whether it's the city attorney or local prosecuting attorney. Your attorney could ask for a deferred prosecution or a first-time offender waiver. Because there are two possible underlying charges, they may not grant it. But by getting the assessment, being straight-up about it, etc. that will go a along way. The attorney will have to work with the charging jurisdiction and it may take some time for the police reports to be completed and the referral made. Usually within a week - but at the end of school - they get a number of these types of cases. This could take some time to wind along so be patient. It may not be initially completed until the end of summer and a deferred prosecution or first time waiver could take longer to be finalized. Whether this is completed before he commissions in a year could be up to a number of factors. Hopefully they'll see how he behaved and want to help him. The dis-enrollment question has been addressed above. Good luck and there are a number of lessons for here for not only your DS but all there other Mids and Cadets and their families who see these incidents come up at this time of year.
     
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  8. MMA19kid

    MMA19kid Banned

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    There's so much wrong with this entire situation. Playing loud music doesn't meet the threshold of probable cause/reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to enter a residence. So he either answered the door obviously intoxicated and underage or invited the police inside to view the underage drinking taking place. He lacks the common sense to not play loud music late at night while engaged in illegal activity in addition to not refusing access to the police, because they lack a warrant or probable cause/reasonable suspicion of ongoing illegal activity necessary to enter.

    And, on top of that he is not able to stand up to his peers and tell them to do the right thing and not consume alcohol underage. This really reeks of terrible judgment, lack of leadership capability, etc. It's like he fell on the sword when he could have avoided the whole thing a few different ways.
     
  9. Jcleppe

    Jcleppe 5-Year Member

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    I don't think you're in a position to know how or why the police entered the home.

    Mistakes were made, he's getting out in front of it and looking for advice to move forward, not really a need for telling him what he did wrong, I think he understands.

    If making a mistake in college like this ended every career then there would be a very small military. The best he can do is move forward and work to resolve the issues and wait for the outcome.
     
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  10. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    All, thanks so much, this is extremely helpful.
     
  11. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    All, I thought I'd add a little more here about some of the "why" regarding how this happened with my DS, at least in part, given his stellor record as a midshipman, in case anyone is interested. At my DS's university, like many/most universities, there are a lot of parties that go on every weekend, lots of drinking. My DS has always shied away from it and most of the time he needs to study over the weekend anyway given his difficult courseload, to keep his grades up. For the three years he's been there, he says that a lot of the time he feels like an outcast because he doesn't partake in the drinking parties. His friends wonder why when they head out at 9 or 10pm to the parties on Friday and Saturday night, he goes back to his room or his lab to study. Sometimes they make fun of him, and who knows what they say about him behind his back. And he sees them having so much fun, and he isn't able to join in. He screwed up big time by not continuing to stand firm, he totally knows it, is completely remorseful, and feels horrible. For me, I find it discouraging that kids like my DS are part of this society (the university), where in large part, unless you are part of the drinking/partying scene, you can end up a bit of an outcast, depending on the situation. My DS does have a number of geniune friends that aren't into drinking so much, and he does have some fun with them. But it really sucks for him and others like him when all the "cool" college kids are socializing so much through alcohol, which can sometimes make others who don't/can't feel left out. I guess kids in my DS's position have to just deal with it.
     
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  12. k2rider

    k2rider 5-Year Member

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    As a veteran of 31 years of law enforcement with 12 of those on a Beach Team in San Diego where 98% of our job was alcohol enforcement, let me just say there are MANY different scenarios where the police can/do/will access a house. I went to easily 5000+ party calls over my career and dealt with this particular issues 100’s of times with San Diego State and USD kids (they were the worst). I can’t speak for where the OP’s son lives but in San Diego, this stuff is so common, 98% of them are reduced to infractions and adjudicated w/o a trial.

    I can’t speak for NROTC but I can’t believe this can be that big of a deal....and regular posters on here know I’m more of a hard case that the average Joe on legal issues.
     
  13. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    K2rider, thank you, that is very good to hear, I hope you are right. Btw my DS told me that the police were originally called to another house party down the street from my DS's street, where they shut the party down, and then heard the loud music at my DS's house, that is why they decided to check it out. They told my DS that he was really stupid to have allowed the music to be so loud, that if the music hadn't been so loud they wouldn't have gone to his house.
     
  14. k2rider

    k2rider 5-Year Member

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    In SD, we had to have a noise complaint UNLESS it was after 10 pm and the music could be heard from over X (I think 100) number of feet away. I'm preaching to the choir but the problem with hosting parties is they all get too big or at least too big for you to be able to control everybody's behavior. All that it takes is for an underage drinker to walk out of the house, be on the front porch with a beer, etc...

    Obviously, not every officer feels the same as I do but I would never hammer an ROTC kid for those violations UNLESS he was an idiot and talked himself into it which doesn't sound like that's what occurred. We had Camp Pendleton, Miramar, Pt Loma sub base, Coronado Seal unit and North Island (Navy) all in San Diego. I gave all military as much leeway as I could. We rarely dealt with ROTC kids and for sure none ever gave me grief.
     
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  15. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Don't mean to be rude as I particularly feel for you all in this situation.... but going out with friends and having fun doesn't have to include drinking, even if they are drinking. Club soda with a twist is a common alternative. Folks need designated drivers and such from time to time. This was his decision and there's really no excuse... not that you were giving anything other than an explanation. Hold his toes to the fire.
     
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  16. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

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    Irresponsible drinking in the Navy IS a big deal. It used to be a big problem years ago and they have been clamping down for a while now. All US military have been confined to base for weeks at a time in Okinawa because of drinking issues. There are signs at every gate facing inward about responsible drinking in Okinawa. Can't speak to other bases. There are Marines handing out leaflets on the topic every Friday afternoon and evening at every gate. I'd say, in general, it's considered a big deal.

    I agree that this particular instance isn't too bad unless they choose to make an example of him. I've seen it done.
     
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  17. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    Thanks again all, very good points, all of them. Agree it was my DS's decision and there is no excuse, and he knows it too. And I've held his feet to the fire so to speak. Oh on the club soda with a twist option -- I mentioned that to my DS last year I think, and he said that he did that a lot, but after awhile, to him, it was starting to feel lame and tiring, epecially when everyone around him would be getting drunk, and he'd be as sober as can be. So that is when he pretty much decided to stop going to parties. But yeah, he needs to get over it. Either just drink club soda or not go to the parties and deal with it. Oh k2rider I meant to add: the police came to my DS's house after midnight -- so I think you are right that they were permitted to do that even without a specific noise complaint because it was so late at night.
     
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  18. NDROTCDad92

    NDROTCDad92 Member

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    This whole string makes me mad! I was a midshipman from 88-92 at Notre Dame, which had a decent party scene. ALL parties had alcohol. Both of our COs said to just be smart. You are in college and students drink. Just don’t be an idiot when you get in trouble, and shipmates take care of each other. If you did get in trouble, take your medicine and tell the unit. There was internal punishment. No one was ever disenrolled, and we had 400 in our unit.

    Good luck with your son and I hope that NOTHING happens to him. My son is going to Wisconsin - Madison as a Marine Option this Fall......the #1 party school in the nation! Hope the unit is reasonable!
     
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  19. MidshipmanParent

    MidshipmanParent Member

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    NDROTCDad92, thank you, I hope so too, really hope the judge/prosecuting attorney is willing to give him a second chance and walk the charges back from misdemeanor, and that his unit is reasonable. The thing that my DS is worried about is that although there have been other alcohol related incidents within his unit, and the midshipmen get a reprimand but nothing serious, none so far as he can tell have involved an actual misdemeanor charge. My reading of the NROTC regulations I've found online is that disenrollment is only mandatory if it is a drug-related charge, which my DS's isn't -- no drugs were involved at all, just alcohol. I assume he'll be fine as long as his charges are reduced after his court date. Congrats to your son going to Wisconsin, and as a Marine Option -- wow, that is impressive! Tell him not to ever host any parties! That is what got my DS in trouble -- that it was "his" party at "his" house (which he was completely honest with the police about), so he was the one considered to be serving the alcohol to some underage drinkers, including himself (three months away from his 21st bday). This was the first party he'd ever thrown, and the only reason he even considered it, even though he knows it was still wrong and totally regrets it, was because the school year had just ended, and he and his friends did super-well grade-wise, and all had exciting internships they were going off too, and the party got way out of control...so many kids showed up, half of them he didn't even know....
     
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  20. 2020HD

    2020HD Member

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    I’d make sure the attorney is a well-known entity to the court venue, preferably a former judge or prosectutor himself from that jurisdiction. If he or she is not, switch to one that is. If you’ve ever been in a courtroom, you’d be amazed at how many good bounces the court-friendly attorney can secure for their clients.
     
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