When You Need Experienced Representation for a University Code of Conduct Violation
Counties, states, and the country at large are all subject to bodies of laws to support a fair and just society. Your college or university also has its own body of laws called a code of conduct. This published set of ethical, professional, and legal standards is likely in your student handbook. Nearly every college or university across the country has put together its own codified collection of regulations and responsibilities about what it expects from faculty, administrators, campus employees, and students. Your code likely includes a variety of different standards – from alcohol consumption in dorm rooms to smartphone use in classrooms. And your campus relies on the code to help support its commitment to integrity, honesty, fairness, and inclusion within the school's greater community.
While school codes of conduct are often compared to county or state laws, they are not enforced in the same way. Even so, violations of the code can come with severe consequences. Those who fail to comply with the code's standards can face penalties ranging from loss of financial assistance to, in the most egregious circumstances, expulsion. It's important to take the time to read your school's code of conduct. While you will find many overlapping themes from school to school, no two are identical. And it is up to you to ensure you are following the standards it has set for success at school.
Student Rights and Procedures
While it's easy to assume that a code of conduct violation isn't a big deal, most institutions of higher learning have established campus judicial systems to try and adjudicate violations. If you have been accused of violating a tenet in the code of conduct, you can expect a certain amount of due process – but the specific protections and procedures vary greatly. In fact, you'll often see fairly dramatic differences between public and private institutions.
That said, when someone is accused of a violation, the first step, most of the time, is a notice of disciplinary violation. It may be an email or a mailed letter, offering some details of the allegation and what the next steps may be. One of those steps is likely a hearing. You may be called before an administrative hearing committee or disciplinary panel. Usually, this is a group of faculty members and administrators. But, at some schools, this panel will also include fellow students. These are the people who will hear the evidence, listen to your defense, and determine whether sanctions are necessary.
This is no kangaroo court. Many university judicial sanctions have significant potential bite to them. You may be asked to pay restitution, go to mandated counseling sessions, or, in more serious cases, leave school altogether. If you are found guilty of a violation, it's likely it will become part of your permanent academic disciplinary record. That means anyone with access to that information – from graduate schools to potential employers – may be able to see the charge and finding.
Protect Your Rights
Television and movie buffs may think they know the in's and out's of the courtroom. But, as stated earlier, campus judiciary systems work a little differently. They have a fair amount of leeway to determine how hearings are held – and what kind of evidence can be presented to the disciplinary hearing. While your Constitutional rights, like the right to counsel and a speedy trial, provide certain safeguards in other legal settings, they may not work the same way at your college or university. It's likely your expectations regarding your privacy, confidentiality, and how evidence is gathered are off the mark. This is why it is so important to have experienced representation. Having an attorney-advocate who understands conduct violation processes is a benefit – and can make sure all those little discrepancies in procedure don't negatively affect your case's outcome.
Your education is important. You've invested a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of hard work to get where you are today. And that's why it is important you understand the gravity of any code of conduct violation. It's easy to brush such things off – or to try to talk your way out of it. But these approaches will likely only work against you. With your future at stake, including graduate school admissions and future employment, you need to make sure your rights are protected every step of the way. And the most important part of your defense will be having strong representation.
Relationship and Domestic Violence Allegations
Relationship violence, sometimes called intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abusive behaviors between two people in a romantic relationship – and the abuse can be of a physical, emotional, or psychological nature. Domestic violence is similar – although it can happen between family members as well as romantic partners who live together. Your university may even have regulations regarding dating violence, or those same patterns of abusive behaviors only occurring between two people who are dating. While this type of offense may be called several different names, this sort of violence, which is often hidden, has garnered more attention both on- and off-campus in recent years.
The college years are a time when people are often experiencing adult dating relationships for the first time – and it is also a time of great stress for many students. When you add in some extra alcohol or drug use, sometimes everyday disagreements can go too far. When squabbles and disputes between dating partners escalate, no one wins. And if they become violent, both parties may find themselves facing a code of conduct violation for relationship or domestic violence.
Relationship and domestic violence often follow a distinct pattern. Tensions build over time, an act of violence occurs, reconciliation soon follows, and then all is calm for a while. But once this kind of cycle of abuse starts, too often, it intensifies over time, leading to greater and more frequent violence. As noted above, colleges and universities take such allegations very seriously – and the sanctions for such charges are likely to be severe. Those found guilty are, at best, looking at a letter of reprimand and mandatory counseling. At worst? Probation or expulsion.
What Should I Do If I Am Accused of a Relationship or Domestic Violence Violation?
First and foremost, take the charge seriously. Given the #MeToo movement, this is not the kind of allegation you can just wish away. Then, get in touch with a trusted attorney-advocate with experience with relationship and domestic violence code of conduct cases. This really is a case where having the right representation makes all the difference to your outcome. Your lawyer can help you gather the right evidence to help make your case at the hearing – and let you know what changes you may need to make in your living situation or class schedule to avoid exacerbating the issue.
Your education is the foundation of your future success. Make sure to protect it. For many years, attorney-advocate Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have successfully defended countless students across the nation who have been charged with code of conduct violations. After a confidential consultation, the Lento Law Firm can help guide you to the most favorable outcome. To get started, call (888) 535-3686 or contact us online.