Attorney Advisor Representation for Students at Top U.S. Universities

College can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Sure, you're preparing yourself for a career, and that's exciting. But you're also living on your own for the first time. You're defining who you are, setting your own boundaries, figuring out what matters most to you. You make a whole new set of friends in college. You have new experiences. You learn to separate your whites from your colors. College is a journey like no other.

That journey can have its fair share of potholes, though. In fact, it's the rare student who graduates completely unscathed by the experience.

What can go wrong? Anything and everything, from dorm room ladybug infestations to Spring Break boating accidents. If you're lucky, most of the negative experiences you encounter will be fairly innocuous. You might go through a bad breakup or two. You'll go to war with your roommate over your tastes in music. Your political philosophy course may cause you to have an identity crisis.

Other problems can be more serious, though. The fact is, thousands of students each year find themselves being investigated by their university for one sort of indiscretion or another. Too many of these students make the mistake of taking the situation lightly, assuming school administrators will simply look the other way or punish transgressions with slaps on wrists. Unfortunately, the days of Animal House are long past. These days colleges and universities take a dim view of student misconduct, and punishments for some policy violations can be severe enough to affect the rest of your life.

If you find yourself in trouble, don't sit around waiting to see what might happen to you. The odds are, whatever it is won't be good. Instead, contact an attorney immediately, someone with experience dealing with university bureaucracy, someone who can make sure your school doesn't violate your due process rights. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento for help.

Academic Misconduct

Most schools separate student misconduct into two categories. The first of these categories is academic misconduct. As you might expect, academic misconduct relates to the classroom and involves any sort of misbehavior that might constitute educational “fraud.” This can include things like:

While these are the most obvious examples of academic misconduct, students are sometimes surprised to find themselves in front of disciplinary committees for things that might otherwise seem fairly innocuous. Schools will prosecute students for signing someone else's name to an attendance sheet, for example. Turning the same paper into two different classes can be another serious violation. In simplest terms, schools expect you to be honest in your coursework and will punish most any attempt to cheat the system.

Non-Academic Misconduct

The second type of misconduct is non-academic. Many of the examples from this category are actually crimes, and in addition to investigating you themselves, schools will sometimes report these crimes to local authorities. Others on this list simply violate what a particular school sees as appropriate behavior, but these violations can have just as serious repercussions. Non-academic misconduct can include:

Break any of these rules, and you're likely to find yourself enmeshed in your school's judicial process.

The University Judicial Process

It may be reassuring to know that if your school catches you taking drugs, it can't throw you in jail. That doesn't mean, though, that colleges and universities don't have their own means of dealing with campus crime. In some cases, campus justice can actually be scarier than finding yourself in a courtroom.

Except in some rare instances, such as Title IX violations, which have to do with federal law, schools operate using their own individual codes of conduct. In addition, they generally have their own specific policies for how they deal with violations of those policies. There are some aspects of campus justice that seem to be more common than others, though.

Once you've been accused of breaking a rule, your school will usually initiate an investigation. What kind of investigation they'll make depends on the nature of the offense itself. Plagiarism, for example, is often investigated—at least in the early stages—by the instructor who made the assignment. On the other hand, a noise violation might be investigated by your school's department of resident life. More serious offenses could draw the attention of the Dean of Students or the campus police.

Many schools now offer informal mediation sessions in at least some disciplinary cases. You may have an opportunity to defend yourself or work out an equitable solution to your situation. In other cases, you may be investigated by a single individual who will have complete authority to judge your guilt or innocence and assign you any necessary penalties. If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, you should be entitled formal hearing, at which you can present evidence, including testimony, in an effort to exonerate yourself or mitigate your offense. (It is important to note, however, that sexual misconduct cases adjudicated under a school's code of conduct and not under Title IX can greatly limit an accused student's due process rights.)

Whatever your situation, typically, schools allow you to appoint an advisor to help you through investigations and hearings. If at all possible, choose an attorney experienced in campus judicial proceedings to serve in this role. It's never a bad idea if you find yourself accused of misconduct to contact a lawyer and ask for help.

Curious about what your particular school's disciplinary policies are? Check these links to find out more:

Punishments

Schools also vary in the kinds of punishments they tend to give out to their students. Again, however, there are some general commonalities. Most schools, for instance, punish academic misconduct with a range of sanctions depending on the nature of the offense and whether or not you are a repeat offender. Punishments might include a failing grade on an assignment or a failing grade in the course. You might also be put on probation, and in more serious instances, suspended or even expelled.

Likewise, non-academic violations are often treated quite seriously particularly if you are a repeat offender. Destroying school property, making a threat, or stalking another student could easily get you suspended. Sexual assault or date rape will likely mean expulsion.

It is worth knowing that expulsion usually means more than simply separating from your school. That in itself can be traumatic. After all, you've invested a significant amount of time, energy, and money into your education. However, many schools also include a notation on your transcript explaining the exact reason for your expulsion. Depending on what that reason is, you may find it difficult, if not impossible, to find another school that will admit you.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Win Your School Misconduct Case

Schools don't usually play fair when it comes to misconduct cases. If your professor accuses you of cheating on an exam, the school probably won't appoint an objective outside investigator to come in and untangle the facts. Instead, they'll likely just believe the professor over you. And if you should manage to get a hearing, you'll find that pretty quickly that the committee assigned to judge your case isn't eager to take your side against a faculty member.

There's too much at stake to simply allow yourself to be railroaded by a one-sided justice system. You could ruin your academic career or worse. You need someone on your side, someone who understands what you're going through, who is empathetic, and whose professional mission is to keep schools from treating their students unfairly.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been defending students just like you across the United States day in and day out for years. He built his practice on college and university cases, and he's worked on every kind of case, from plagiarism and honor code violations, to Title IX sexual misconduct and code of conduct charges, such as drug possession and assault, and in every situation which accused students may find themselves.

A university case isn't like a criminal case. The rules aren't always clear, and the process isn't always fair. Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands this because he has fought in this arena countless times at colleges and universities across the nation. He knows how to deal with faculty and administrators; he knows what tricks your school and disciplinary officials will use to try to dissuade you from exercising your rights, sometimes in an attempt to make their job easier, and he knows how to make sure you get every right and advantage to which you're entitled.

Don't try to take on the school alone.

If you've been accused of violating your school's policies—whether the offense is academic or non-academic—don't wait. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento today. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.

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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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