When a student attending a higher education institution is accused of sexual assault, he or she is required to undergo grueling school processes, which includes an investigation and a hearing. If school authorities conclude that a respondent is deemed responsible for the claims brought against the accused, disciplinary actions will be imposed. Generally, schools resort to either expelling or suspending students when they lose a hearing. However, these actions are not necessarily indicative of the end of the road.
Grounds to Appeal
Virtually every school in the nation gives respondents the right to appeal a case. But there are a series of grounds for an appeal, commonly detailed in a college's code of conduct, that must be present in the accused's case in order for one to be granted. If you are contemplating appealing the outcome of a case, the assistance of a lawyer is crucial. In these circumstances, skilled legal representation typically ghostwrites an appeal in a way that will most likely be granted by a school. They thoroughly examine a school's code of conduct to make a case for an appeal based on a school's guidelines. If you attempt to do this yourself, you may address matters in your letter for appeal that will give the school a good reason to dismiss your request.
Here are several of the grounds in which schools will allow respondents to get an appeal:
Lack of Substantial Evidence
A school may allow a respondent to appeal if he or she can clearly prove that the decision was not supported by substantial evidence. As with many other cases, sexual assault hearings oftentimes boil down to the accuser's word against the accused. If a respondent can successfully articulate why a reasonable and sensible panel would not have come to the same conclusion that was reached in his or her case, an appeal may be granted.
Although appeals are often granted due to a violation of a school's code of conduct, this isn't always the case. An appeal could be given to respondents based on actions that may not result in a violation, but are indeed unfair.
For example, let's say that new allegations from your accuser are pinned against you the day before a hearing, which gives you little time to make preparations to defend yourself in a hearing. In a letter of appeal, you would be able to argue that it is not fair for you to have to defend these allegations that you had faint knowledge of.
School's Failure to Follow Policies
The most obvious and common reason for an appeal is the violation of a school's policies. A college's code of conduct should completely detail how hearings are conducted. If a college is found to violate its own rules by not giving you a chance to speak on your own behalf, for example, when the code of conduct grants you that right, you should ask for an appeal.
Respondents also have the option of appealing based on the fact their sanction, or punishment, is considered too harsh. Students who have been accused of sexual assault that did not particularly involve sexual intercourse often reference this reasoning in their letter of appeal to a school.