Thanks to procedural police dramas, many college students are aware of the rights they enjoy when interacting with police. When they are stopped by police or accused of a crime, they have likely heard of their right to remain silent. Not all students understand whether this right applies to campus police, however.
Students facing allegations of sexual misconduct have to walk a tightrope when it comes to these situations. While they are under no obligation to speak with law enforcement about allegations of sexual assault, their failure to address questions from the university can work against them in a disciplinary hearing. Campus police understand these challenges and often point to the threat of expulsion to convince a student to talk about their case. This can complicate matters further by opening the student up to a criminal investigation.
You Do Not Have to Speak with Campus Police
Just like with any law enforcement entities, you are under no obligation to speak with campus police. While they may appear more like security guards than actual law enforcement officers, most campus police departments are empowered to make criminal arrests. This means you could be incriminating yourself by discussing your case with them.
In fact, no one from the university can compel you to talk speak about an accusation. You cannot be held in contempt or arrested for failing to comply with their requests. That does not mean there are no consequences.
Using Your Silence Against You
While the campus police cannot force you to answer their questions, the university can use your silence against you. Title IX requires school policy to allow both accusers and accused to be heard, but your failure to answer questions or testify at a hearing. You can count on the accuser telling their story during your investigation, and their story will be the only one that will be heard if you fail to take part in the process. While this can protect you from incriminating yourself in a manner that could lead to a conviction, you are unlikely to get the result you want during your disciplinary hearing.
The Value of Experienced Legal Counsel
Thankfully, you do not have to choose between defending yourself at your disciplinary hearing or avoiding criminal prosecution. Like with a criminal case, you are entitled to the assistance of legal counsel during your Title IX hearing.
Your attorney can assist you with fighting back in your disciplinary proceeding without endangering your future with potential criminal charges. With the right attorney, you could obtain a favorable outcome in your Title IX hearing while avoiding criminal charges entirely.
Working with Joseph D. Lento
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than 10 years of experience fighting for students accused of Title IX violations. During the course of his career, he has helped students, faculty, and others protect their education and career.
If you are ready to discuss your defense options, contact Joseph D. Lento online or call his office at 888-535-3686 to schedule your free consultation right away.