There are few things that are more exciting for a teenager (other than getting a driver’s license) than receiving an acceptance letter in the mail from the college or university of your dreams. Yet this incredible feeling can quickly be dashed if you are accused of academic misconduct or other disciplinary proceedings by your college or university.
If your college has notified you of an investigation into your conduct, your first reaction may be to panic – and understandably so. A finding that you violated the student code of conduct or otherwise engaged in misconduct could derail your future. That is why it is critical to retain a college student defense attorney.
At Engel & Martin, LLC, we have significant experience handling all types of college disciplinary issues, including Title IX investigations, academic misconduct allegations, and campus disciplinary hearings. As former prosecutors, we understand how the system works – and we put that knowledge to work for our clients.
Why Would a College Student Need an Attorney?
It may seem strange to claim that a young adult would need an adult to deal with an issue that happens on their college campus. Yet if you are facing any type of investigation or disciplinary action, having an attorney to defend your rights is critical.
A disciplinary matter can lead to serious consequences for your academic career. Depending on the type of violation, potential sanctions may include a formal reprimand, suspension, or even expulsion. In some cases, the results of a college or university’s investigation may be turned over to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.
A black mark on your academic transcript can make it difficult to complete your education, even if you transfer to another college or university. For more serious violations, such as a sexual assault investigation under Title IX, disciplinary action could make it difficult or even impossible to finish your degree.
What is less well known is that a disciplinary finding may also make it difficult for students to get professional licenses; students have faced such difficulties even after graduating from medical school or law school. And it may not even matter if the school agrees to not include a notation on your transcript — you will likely be required to disclose the misconduct in any application.
An experienced student disciplinary hearing lawyer will protect your legal rights throughout the process. In a situation where you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what to do, your attorney will research the specific rules set forth in your college’s code of conduct. They will ensure that the investigation against you is fair and conducted in accordance with the procedures that the university has established and, if appropriate, your constitutional rights. If the matter goes to a hearing, they will advise you and help you put on a strong defense.
What Types of Cases Do We Handle?
Based in Ohio, our law firm represents college students throughout the country. We have appeared on behalf of students in Texas, California, Florida, New York, and other states. Our practice focuses on three areas: Title IX defense, campus disciplinary hearings, and academic misconduct allegations.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) protects students and staff at publicly-funded schools from discrimination on the basis of sex or gender. This law applies to colleges, universities, high schools, and even elementary schools.
A number of issues fall under the umbrella of Title IX, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, and gender discrimination. The law sets out specific rules for how schools must handle complaints related to these matters.
Both the alleged victim (“complainant”) and the alleged perpetrator (“respondent”) have specific rights under Title IX. This includes certain due process protections both under federal regulations and, for public schools, the constitution.
In recent years, as public pressure has mounted to end the scourge of campus sexual assault, many colleges and universities engaged in a rush to judgment. This may help the school avoid bad press – but it does not protect the rights of college students who have been accused of this type of misconduct.
If you have been accused of sexual assault (rape) or another type of gender-based violence, you could be facing serious consequences from your school. University investigators may also turn over the results of their investigation – including statements that you make to them – to the police. The best way to protect yourself during this process is to hire a Title IX attorney who can help you fight back against these allegations and ensure that you receive justice.
Campus Disciplinary Hearings
Campus disciplinary hearings are not conducted like a trial in the criminal justice system. The rights of a student who is being investigated by their college or university are very different from the rights of a defendant in a criminal case. Unfortunately, the consequences of a campus disciplinary hearing can be incredibly severe – including suspension or expulsion.
Each school has a different procedure for campus disciplinary hearings. These rules will be set out in your student handbook and may vary based on the type of allegation against you (academic misconduct, code of conduct violation, or Title IX accusation). While these hearings may seem informal, they should be taken seriously.
Depending on the rules established by your college or university, you may not get to question witnesses or even appeal the decision made at the hearing. The standard of proof may be much lower than what it is in a criminal case. The school may not even have to tell you what evidence they have against you.
The best way to protect your rights during this process is by hiring a lawyer for college students. Your attorney will learn the specific policies and procedures that guide the campus disciplinary process at your school and get to work helping you mount a defense. In some cases, they may even be able to resolve the complaint with the school before it even reaches the hearing stage – helping you avoid a sanction that could negatively impact your future.
Academic misconduct or dishonesty can take many forms. A student may be accused of academic dishonesty for plagiarism, cheating on an exam, fabricating or falsifying results, submitting work multiple times, misusing academic materials, or any number of other violations. A student may even be facing academic dishonesty charges for being complicit in someone else cheating in some way.
Academic dishonesty is a serious allegation that could affect your ability to finish your college degree. Depending on the charge and evidence against you, your school may decide that you will get a failing grade, issue a formal reprimand, suspend you, or even expel you. Any finding that you engaged in academic dishonesty may make it difficult to transfer to another college or university.
Investigations into academic misconduct are often rushed, and may not always be impartial. If you have been accused of this type of violation, an academic misconduct attorney can work to protect your rights – and your future.
Help for College Students
College is a lifelong dream for many students – and one that can be dashed by an unfair allegation against you. If you have been accused of violating your school’s code of conduct or engaging in violence against another person, then you will need a college student defense attorney who can help you fight back against these types of allegations.
From our law offices in Mason, Ohio, Engel & Martin represents college students throughout the country who have been charged with violations related to Title IX, academic dishonesty, and other forms of misconduct. Our litigators are tough, experienced, and tenacious. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a member of our team, call us at 513-445-9600 or fill out our online contact form.