Freshman will appear in court for two drug charges

The freshman arrested in mid-January for allegedly picking up a box containing marijuana from the GW Package Center is due in court next week for two drug charges.

Sriram Prakash will go before the D.C. Superior Court next Monday for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, said Channing Phillips, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. Although a police report stated Prakash received marijuana shipped across state borders, Phillips said there are no federal drug trafficking charges against the 18-year-old student.

Prakash could face up to 280 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000 if convicted of the first charge and up to 30 days in jail and a fine up to $100 if convicted of the second charge, Phillips said.

The status hearing follows Prakash’s arraignment on Jan. 26 when he was formally charged with the two misdemeanors. At the hearing, attorneys will decide if the case will go to trial, if a plea bargain will be reached or if another status hearing is necessary.

Phillips said that defendants facing their first drug charge can plead guilty to a much lesser sentence.

“If someone has never been convicted of a drug offense before they have the option to plead guilty and go on probation,” he said. “If they complete their probation they can have the court purge the offense from their record.”

The University’s internal disciplinary actions against students arrested for drug distribution is unaffected by what happens in the courts, said Tara Woolfson, director of Student Judicial Services.

Woolfson said SJS begins its own investigative process and advises the student of their rights when suspected of violating the “Code of Student Conduct” following an arrest.

In some situations, Woolfson said, an interim suspension may be given to a student while the investigation takes place. Suspension or expulsion from the University is a typical punishment for being found guilty of drug crimes.

“In certain cases where the student may be a danger, the University may give what’s called an interim suspension,” Woolfson said. “Interim suspension means that until the judicial process has an outcome, the student is temporarily removed from the university.”

Prakash is still enrolled at GW, as of Jan. 29, said Media Relations Director Tracy Schario.

Prakash said in an e-mail that he felt obliged not to comment further.

“I feel that what has happened to me is wrong, but that is between the University and me,” he wrote. “It is my sincere hope that I am allowed to continue my education as a Colonial.”

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