Student Defense - Florida International University College of Law

The College of Law at Florida International University (FIU) is proud of its students' exceptional bar passage and employment rates. With nationwide rankings on the rise for several years, it has been named one of the Top 10 Best Value law schools in the nation.

A strong collegiate reputation is supported by high academic and professional standards. Violations of the FIU Student Conduct and Honor Code are taken very seriously and any misconduct during your law school career can impact your future professional life.

Students who are sanctioned, suspended, or expelled from law school not only jeopardize their grades and graduation. Honor Code violations may become part of your permanent record that can affect your right to practice law.

If you have violated the FIU Code, or if you have been unfairly accused of a violation, turn to attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento to defend your rights and your future. The Lento Law Firm specializes in advocating for law students throughout the country. Count on us to protect your future with our vast experience.

The FIU Student Conduct and Honor Code

The FIU Student Conduct and Honor Code sets forth the university's expectations for professional and law students:

“Professional Students at FIU are expected to adhere to the highest standards of integrity in every aspect of their lives. Honesty in academic matters is part of this obligation… Code violations may lead to suspension or expulsion from the University if a determination of responsibility has been made.”

The Code identifies two categories of violations: Conduct Violations (Section 5) and Academic Violations (Section 6).

Possible Academic and Professional Conduct Violations

Most law students facing conduct issues are charged with academic violations. Under Section 6 of FIU's Honor Code, the following acts are considered academic offenses:

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Bribery
  • Cheating
  • Plagiarism, and
  • Falsification of records

Section 5 of the FIU Honor Code includes these professional conduct violations:

  • Attempting or assisting another person to violate the Honor Code
  • Illegal drinking, sale, or possession of alcohol
  • Public intoxication or appearing in class while under the influence of alcohol
  • Computer misuse
  • Disruptive conduct that interferes with the mission of the university
  • Illegal drug use
  • Fraudulent activity or false statements
  • Harassment and hazing
  • Personal abuse and stalking, and
  • Other criminal activities

As a law student, if you are sanctioned for academic integrity or professional code violations, you may be rejected by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission or lose future professional and employment opportunities, including admission to the Florida Bar or other states bars.

Potential Honor Code Violation Consequences

If you are found responsible for violating the FIU Honor Code, depending on the seriousness of the violation, you may face the following sanctions:

  • Permanent expulsion from FIU, including loss of class credits
  • Suspension (usually the minimum sanction if you are found responsible)
  • Deferred suspension until you complete certain requirements
  • Conduct probation
  • Activities such as counseling or writing a letter of apology, and
  • Written reprimand

The potential implications of an Honor Code violation don't end with the university process. Conduct reprimands can lead to future problems including:

  • Failure to graduate from FIU, or another law school
  • Permanent impact on your law degree and academic record
  • Ethical difficulties while interviewing for legal positions because you must disclose misconduct findings
  • Damage to your professional reputation, and
  • The inability to become an attorney

If not taken seriously, law school conduct charges can snowball into severe future problems. It's imperative to mount an early, strong defense.

FIU Law School Disciplinary Procedures

The introduction to the Honor Code specifically states,

“Being a contributing Student also comes with responsibility to adhere to the Student Conduct and Honor Code (Code). The ultimate responsibility for knowing University requirements and regulations rests with the Student.”

In other words, claiming ignorance of the Honor Code's possible violations and potential penalties is no defense when facing a conduct accusation. Section 7 of the Honor Code describes the procedure an accused student will face:

  1. The matter is referred to the Student Conduct and Academic Integrity (SCAI) Director for a preliminary review to determine if there is enough information to file a charge. The Director may meet with relevant witnesses, review information, and speak with instructors to make a decision.
  2. In the meantime, interim actions can include no-contact orders, restricted privileges or access to classes and activities, temporary suspension, removal from school premises, and more. You can petition for a review of an interim decision and request a hearing.

Student Misconduct Investigation and Decision Process

If the investigation leads to charges, you will receive written notice of the charges, a statement of the allegations, and other information so you can defend your rights at the Student Conduct proceeding. You are always entitled to have an advisor throughout the process, and even with seemingly-minor allegations, an experienced attorney-advisor's impact can be critical.

Once charged, you have a few options:

You should attend an Information Session where you receive details about the charges and the upcoming process. If you don't attend this session, the hearing officer can schedule a hearing and put a hold on your scholastic records until there is a final outcome.

You can also request a Summary Resolution after attending the Information Session by waiving a formal hearing and asking the hearing officer to simply decide your responsibility and possible sanctions.

Or you can proceed to a hearing that is either:

  • Administrative - where the hearing officer acts as the entire hearing body and makes the decision, or
  • A Student Conduct Committee - which consists of the hearing officer who runs the hearing and faculty and student members who reach a decision.

Again, due to the seriousness of these proceedings, you are allowed to have an advisor throughout the process to guide you to the most equitable outcome.

Your Right to Appeal the Decision

If you do not agree with the decision rendered against you, you can appeal to the Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. Appeals must be based on one of three grounds:

  • The decision was a violation of your rights or did not follow the Student Conduct procedures
  • New, relevant information is now available, or
  • The sanction's severity is not proportionate to the seriousness of the charge.

You have seven days to appeal, and you must use the university's prescribed form. This may be your last opportunity to defend yourself because if you don't appeal the decision, it becomes a Final Action. Finally, after exhausting all standard avenues, you may have additional legal rights through the school's Office of General Counsel or initiating a civil lawsuit.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento is a Powerful Ally

Section 10 of the FIU Honor Code specifically states that all students have the right to an advisor at any time during disciplinary proceedings. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento has worked with law students at FIU and throughout the United States to successfully navigate hundreds of school-related issues and concerns. Count on his unique experience to help prepare your defense.

Exercise your right to have a skilled attorney-advisor guiding you and protecting your future. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact the Lento Law Firm online to schedule an appointment to discuss your rights.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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