College Code of Conduct Defense Advisor - California

Are you or your child getting ready to attend a college or university in California?

Whether you're preparing to matriculate or you're already there, staying in the good graces of your school should be high up on your to-do list. One of the best ways to do so is to take a look at your school's code of conduct very early on in the school year. (This document could be in your student handbook or easily findable on your school's website).

The thing is, your school's code of conduct can be a little bewildering to get through. There will be sections that don't seem like they apply to you; there will be other sections that are written in incomprehensible legalese or with extremely dense footnotes. You may wonder whether you have any chance of toeing the line at your school with this difficult-to-comprehend document as your guide.

Fortunately, you don't have to comb through your school's regulations on your own. When you need help understanding and referencing your school's code of conduct (for instance, to prepare for a conduct hearing), it's time to reach out to a student defense professional to get the targeted assistance that you need.

This may seem like an overreaction. It isn't. Whenever you face disciplinary sanctions at your school, your reputation is in jeopardy. It's essential that you are able to put your best foot forward during every stage of your school's investigative and adjudicative procedures. On this page, we'll provide key resources to help you know precisely what to do if you receive allegations of misconduct at your California school.

Sexual Misconduct and Academic Misconduct Infractions: The Primary California College and University Code of Conduct Issues

There are several potential categories in which your CA school could organize code of conduct infractions. Some, such as academic dishonesty or sexual misconduct, may seem relatively clear. Others, such as ‘general code of conduct infractions,' may be more school-specific or require more interpretation.

Let's start by going through a high-level definition of academic misconduct and prohibited sexual behaviors.

What is academic integrity or an academic honor code? What behaviors constitute infractions?

Typical behaviors that your school may consider academic dishonesty include:

  • Plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Destruction of School Property
  • Classroom Disruption
  • Data Fabrication
  • Unauthorized Collaboration
  • Access of Unauthorized Materials

In addition, if you help another student cheat, fabricate data, access illicit materials, or complete any other prohibited behavior, your school may consider you responsible for academic misconduct as well. The sanctions associated with academic dishonesty can vary widely. For a less severe or initial offense, your instructor may simply award you a failing grade. However, repeated or more severe prohibited behaviors could net the involved students much more severe sanctions (e.g., a suspension or even a dismissal.)

What actions constitute sexual misconduct at the college level?

If you're looking for a concise definition, it could be as simple as this: Any sexual activity that occurs without the consent of all people who are involved in that sexual activity is sexual misconduct.

In your school's official documentation, you should be able to find a more fleshed-out list of concrete prohibited actions. These may include:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking
  • Incest
  • Rape

However, anything from the creation of an uncomfortable environment to lewd jokes can result in an allegation of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, your school may have an incentive (such as a financial one due to a Title IX policy) to levy harsh sanctions for even slight offenses of sexual misconduct. Even if your school opts to adjudicate your sexual misconduct case under its more general code of conduct provisions, you may not enjoy some of the (current) increased protections or types of due process that can come along with Title IX procedures.

Are There Other Types of Code of Conduct Issues at My California School?

Outside of sexual misconduct and academic integrity issues, yes, there are other types of behaviors that your school will likely frown upon (and associate with steep sanctions). These should be itemized in your school's code of conduct. They may also be unique to your school, so it's an excellent idea to familiarize yourself with your school's specific documentation.

Typical prohibited behaviors that could represent more “general” code of conduct infractions include:

  • Alcohol possession (and consumption). While you may not particularly associate the college years with abstention from alcohol, it's key to remember that (in most cases) consumption and possession of alcohol is illegal for those who are underage. At your California school, most of your peers will be under twenty-one. California also has extremely stringent laws surrounding underage drinking. As a result, your school will probably also have written regulations prohibiting these actions at your school as well.
  • Drug possession (and related actions). Just as your school will likely frown on alcohol consumption, your school will probably also prohibit the distribution, possession, and use of controlled substances. The specific drugs may vary from school to school. Most schools will prohibit the use of steroids, narcotics, and the recreational use of prescription drugs.
  • Hazing gone wrong. In recent years, there has been a wave of backlash against specific introductory rituals that veer into the aggressive or inappropriate arena. If the prerequisite hazing for a fraternity, sorority, sports team, or any social group on campus involves pain, embarrassment, or is simply judged in the eyes of the administration as “too far,” it may be prohibited at your California school.
  • Residential misconduct. This is a wide category of prohibited behaviors that exist to ensure that students are safe (and appropriate) in their dormitories. Your school's code of conduct should include a list of behaviors, actions, substances, and items that are not allowed in your dormitories. For example, the destruction of another person's personal property within the dorm setting is generally now allowed. Similarly, fighting and even assault within the dormitory could be grounds for harsh sanctions since it introduces a form of danger to the entire residential community.
  • Hate crimes. This umbrella category of prohibited actions involves offenses that may in some way be connected with an opinion regarding another student's religion, race, sexual orientation, age, gender, color, or other aspect of their personality (or person). Technically, many different behaviors could fall into this category, from fights to pranks or even jokes. Unfortunately, many hate crimes can arise from a simple mistake or miscommunication. However, a hate crime can do a significant amount of damage to the long-term reputation of those involved.

Whether you or a loved one faces allegations for residential misconduct, academic integrity violations, sexual misconduct, or even a hate crime, your school's adjudicative and disciplinary processes will begin when someone files an official report with your school. This could be the alleged victim of your behaviors, someone acting on their behalf, an instruction (e.g., for academic misconduct), or even someone who is apparently not related to the incident at all (e.g., a bystander).

Once your school receives this information, your school will review the data and either disregard the allegation or launch its due process. In the next section, we'll review the events that happen immediately after an initial allegation of misconduct.

How Will My California School Manage Code of Conduct Infractions?

If your school decides to proceed with an investigation into your alleged actions, you'll receive some type of notification from your school. This will include a summary of the allegations and some indication of the specific items in your school's code of conduct that you may have violated.

Here's what you need to know about handling each stage of the adjudicative process in the best possible way.

The Investigation. It's key to realize that entire misconduct cases can be won or lost at this stage. First and foremost, don't speak with anyone about your case. You may feel that you need reassurance from someone knowledgeable or that you can trust an instructor with your woes. Don't do this. Sharing information can come back to bite you later.

At this time, you should hire a student defense advisor. It may seem early, but your advisor can help you ensure that the entire process, starting your investigation, goes as smoothly and as successfully as possible. For example, your advisor can be present with you for all investigative meetings and help you comb through evidence or assemble witnesses.

The Hearing. After your school has collected information, you'll receive an invitation to a formal disciplinary hearing. Before it occurs, work with your attorney. They will be able to help you prepare arguments for the hearing and make sure that you feel comfortable with the evidence you'll be presenting. At this hearing, you'll stand before a panel of school officials. This board will consider the evidence, interview the involved parties and any witnesses, and (at the end) come to both a decision of responsibility and a recommendation for sanctions. While some schools may not allow students a legal advisor in the hearing itself, your advisor can help keep your school accountable for your rights, prepare you for the hearing, and assist with negotiations afterward in a more productive manner. Generally speaking, your school will take you more seriously if you have a defense professional present. Importantly for your peace of mind, your lawyer will also be able to help keep you updated and aware of all of the information you need so you don't feel overwhelmed and confused by this daunting process.

The Sanctions. If the board at your hearings determines that you are responsible for the relevant infractions, they will recommend a sanction. While your school's code of conduct may list out a series of possible sanctions, the most common by far are suspensions and expulsions. They're also the most serious. Why?

If you receive a suspension, you need to be aware of the long-term consequences. For example, if you are suspended, you won't be able to attend school for a time. As a result, not only will your academic plans and schedules take a hit, but your transcript will also have a gap in it that you'll need to explain later in life. This won't look good. When you're trying to apply to internships, jobs, or subsequent academic institutions, for example, that gap may constitute a reason why you don't get an opportunity you would have otherwise deserved.

The sanction you receive could go before you, your entire life, closing doors for you that would have otherwise remained open.

That's why you need to invest in a strong defense now, to make sure that tomorrow's success isn't hurt by today's mistakes.

One of the first concrete actions you'll be able to take to negotiate with your school is an appeal. We'll discuss how best to approach this step in the next section.

How California Students Can Manage Code of Conduct Infractions

Curious how you can avoid a direct hit to your reputation and keep your future looking good?

The most important thing you can do is hire a qualified student defense attorney as early on in the process as possible.

Don't decide that you can handle this on your own. You can't. Don't wonder whether the stakes aren't high enough to get a professional involved. They are. You want someone capable to be at your side before this becomes something bigger than you could have imagined. You'll need help managing your investigation productively, preparing persuasive arguments for your hearing, and drafting up a defense, an appeal, and more.

Your attorney will also be able to help you file the most strategic appeal possible. Here's how that could work:

  • Firstly, you'll need to find out how long after your hearing you have to act. Your school may communicate this to you along with your sanctions, or you may need to locate this information yourself within your school's code of conduct. You'll also need to act quickly. This window could be as brief as five business days.
  • You'll need to create an argument summarizing your rationale for opening negotiations. Some examples of good rationale include demonstrable procedural anomalies, new information that's come to light since your school's investigation, or a recommended sanction that's clearly disproportionate to the alleged infraction.
  • You'll need to send your argument to the appropriate professional at your school. This is often your school's Dean of Students, but this specific individual should be named in your school's code of conduct.
  • You'll then wait for your school to decide whether to reopen your case.
  • Your school will send you their decision. Whatever this decision is, it will be final.

If your school denies your appeal

After you've received a confirmation of your sanctions after an unsuccessful appeal, you may wonder if you have any remaining cards to play. Your student defense attorney will be able to review your specific situation and recommend further steps. You may be able to pursue relief and a more favorable outcome by:

  1. Filing a complaint with the California Department of Education. This regulatory authority may be able to provide some leverage or otherwise help your school to reconsider your sanctions.
  2. Having your lawyer reach out to your school's office of general counsel. Often, this type of assisted mediation between legal professionals can go a long way towards smoothing over your situation and even helping you avoid the necessity of a lawsuit. This can be one of the best methods to employ as you go about reaching a successful conclusion to your case.
  3. Considering litigation against your school. While this is a potentially drastic step, it can be very effective. Your defense attorney will be able to review the specifics of your case and determine whether you have a sufficient basis for a strategic suit.

If it seems like we've covered a lot of information, it's because there's a lot to consider. Fortunately, you don't need to handle the adjudication of your alleged code of conduct infractions on your own.

Rely on the Legal Expertise and Student Defense Experience at the Lento Law Firm for a Successful Outcome

When you're facing confusing, complicated, and potentially scary code of conduct disciplinary processes at your California school, it's easy to get overwhelmed. There's a lot going on.

From needing to come up with strong, strategic defenses to getting ready for hearings, gathering evidence supporting your story, and keeping up with your coursework all the while—there's definitely a lot that you need to keep straight. With all those balls in the air, one thing is clear: You're going to need professional help if you want to make it through this time as successfully as possible.

Joseph D. Lento is a successful, hard-working, and smart code of conduct attorney who has helped countless students nationwide in your situation get where they need to be. He can use his years of knowledge to delve through your code of conduct and understand the nuances or find the loopholes that can make a huge difference in your case. From assistance coming up with arguments to coaching prior to hearings, Joseph D. Lento will be there for you to help you succeed with your code of conduct disciplinary experience.

Ready to learn more about how we can help? Connect with Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today to schedule a consultation, or contact us online, and we'll get back to you as shortly as we can.

California colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's code of conduct defense advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:

  • Academy of Art University
  • Allan Hancock College
  • American Academy of Dramatic Arts Los Angeles
  • American Conservatory Theater
  • American Jewish University
  • American River College
  • American University of Health Sciences
  • Antelope Valley College
  • Argosy University Inland Empire
  • Argosy University Los Angeles
  • Argosy University Orange County
  • Argosy University San Diego
  • Argosy University San Francisco Bay Area
  • Art Center College of Design
  • Azusa Pacific Online University
  • Azusa Pacific University
  • Bakersfield College
  • Barstow Community College
  • Berkeley City College
  • Bethesda University of California
  • Biola University
  • Brooks Institute
  • Bryan University
  • Butte College
  • Cabrillo College
  • California Baptist University
  • California Christian College
  • California College of the Arts
  • California College San Diego
  • California Culinary Academy
  • California Institute of Technology
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • California Lutheran University
  • California Maritime Academy
  • California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo
  • California State Polytechnic University Pomona
  • California State University Bakersfield
  • California State University Channel Islands
  • California State University Chico
  • California State University Dominguez Hills
  • California State University East Bay
  • California State University Fresno
  • California State University Fullerton
  • California State University Long Beach
  • California State University Los Angeles
  • California State University Monterey Bay
  • California State University Northridge
  • California State University Sacramento
  • California State University San Bernardino
  • California State University San Marcos
  • California State University Stanislaus
  • Canada College
  • Cerritos College
  • Cerro Coso Community College
  • Chabot College
  • Chaffey College Rancho
  • Chapman University
  • Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Citrus College
  • City College of San Francisco
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Coastline Community College
  • Cogswell College
  • Coleman University
  • College of Alameda
  • College of Marin
  • College of San Mateo
  • College of the Canyons
  • College of the Desert
  • College of the Redwoods
  • College of the Sequoias
  • College of the Siskiyous
  • Columbia College
  • Columbia College Hollywood
  • Community Christian College
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • Contra Costa College
  • Copper Mountain Community College
  • Cosumnes River College
  • Crafton Hills College
  • Cuesta College San Luis
  • Cuyamaca College
  • Cypress College
  • De Anza College
  • Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre
  • Design Institute of San Diego
  • DeVry University California
  • Diablo Valley College
  • Dominican University of California
  • East Los Angeles College
  • East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program
  • El Camino College Compton Center
  • El Camino Community College District
  • Epic Bible College
  • Everest College Anaheim
  • Everest College City of Industry
  • Everest College Ontario Metro
  • Everest College Reseda
  • Everest College West Los Angeles
  • Evergreen Valley College
  • Expression College for Digital Arts
  • Fashion Careers College
  • Feather River Community College District
  • FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Los Angeles
  • FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Orange County
  • FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising San Diego
  • FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising San Francisco
  • Folsom Lake College
  • Foothill College
  • Fresno City College
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Fullerton College
  • Gavilan College
  • Glendale Community College
  • Golden West College
  • Golf Academy of America Carlsbad
  • Grossmont College
  • Hands on Medical Massage School
  • Hartnell College
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Heald College Concord
  • Heald College Fresno
  • Heald College Hayward
  • Heald College Modesto
  • Heald College Roseville
  • Heald College San Francisco
  • Heald College San Jose
  • Heald College Stockton
  • Holy Names University
  • Hope International University
  • Horizon College San Diego
  • Humboldt State University
  • Humphreys College Stockton and Modesto Campuses
  • Imperial Valley College
  • International Academy of Design and Technology Sacramento
  • International Professional School of Bodywork
  • Irvine Valley College
  • ITT Technical Institute Clovis
  • ITT Technical Institute Concord
  • ITT Technical Institute Corona
  • ITT Technical Institute Culver City
  • ITT Technical Institute Lathrop
  • ITT Technical Institute Oakland
  • ITT Technical Institute Orange
  • ITT Technical Institute Oxnard
  • ITT Technical Institute Rancho Cordova
  • ITT Technical Institute San Bernardino
  • ITT Technical Institute San Diego
  • ITT Technical Institute San Dimas
  • ITT Technical Institute Sylmar
  • ITT Technical Institute Torrance
  • ITT Technical Institute West Covina
  • John Paul the Great Catholic University
  • King's University
  • La Sierra University
  • Laguna College of Art and Design
  • Lake Tahoe Community College
  • Laney College
  • Las Positas College
  • Lassen Community College
  • Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Pasadena
  • Life Pacific College
  • Lincoln University
  • Long Beach City College
  • Los Angeles City College
  • Los Angeles College of Music
  • Los Angeles Harbor College
  • Los Angeles Mission College
  • Los Angeles Pierce College
  • Los Angeles Southwest College
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College
  • Los Angeles Valley College
  • Los Medanos College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Marymount College
  • Mendocino College
  • Menlo College
  • Merced College
  • Merritt College
  • Mills College
  • MiraCosta College
  • Mission College
  • Modesto Junior College
  • Monterey Peninsula College
  • Moorpark College
  • Moreno Valley College
  • Mount St. Mary's College
  • Mt Sierra College
  • Mt. San Antonio College
  • Mt. San Jacinto Community College District
  • Musicians Institute
  • Napa Valley College
  • National University
  • Newschool of Architecture and Design
  • Norco College
  • Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Occidental College
  • Ohlone Community College
  • Orange Coast College
  • Otis College of Art and Design
  • Oxnard College
  • Pacific College of Oriental Medicine LLC San Diego
  • Pacific States University
  • Pacific Union College
  • Palo Verde College
  • Palomar College
  • Pasadena City College
  • Patten University
  • Pepperdine University
  • Pitzer College
  • Platt College Los Angeles
  • Platt College Ontario
  • Platt College San Diego
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Pomona College
  • Porterville College
  • Professional Golfers Career College
  • Providence Christian College
  • Reedley College
  • Rio Hondo College
  • Riverside City College
  • Sacramento City College
  • Saddleback College
  • Sage College
  • Saint Marys College of California
  • San Diego Christian College
  • San Diego City College
  • San Diego Mesa College
  • San Diego Miramar College
  • San Diego State University
  • San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Joaquin Delta College
  • San Joaquin Valley College Bakersfield
  • San Joaquin Valley College Fresno
  • San Joaquin Valley College Fresno Aviation
  • San Joaquin Valley College Hesperia
  • San Joaquin Valley College Modesto
  • San Joaquin Valley College Online
  • San Joaquin Valley College Rancho Cordova
  • San Joaquin Valley College Rancho Cucamonga
  • San Joaquin Valley College Temecula
  • San Joaquin Valley College Visalia
  • San Jose City College
  • San Jose State University
  • Santa Ana College
  • Santa Barbara Business College Bakersfield
  • Santa Barbara Business College Santa Maria
  • Santa Barbara Business College Ventura
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Santa Clara University
  • Santa Monica College
  • Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Santiago Canyon College
  • Scripps College
  • Shasta Bible College and Graduate School
  • Shasta College
  • Sierra College
  • Simpson University
  • Skyline College
  • Soka University of America
  • Solano Community College
  • Sonoma State University
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture
  • Southern California Institute of Technology
  • Southern California Seminary
  • Southwestern College
  • Stanford University
  • SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary
  • Taft College
  • Taft University System
  • The Art Institute of California Hollywood
  • The Art Institute of California Inland Empire
  • The Art Institute of California Los Angeles
  • The Art Institute of California Orange County
  • The Art Institute of California Sacramento
  • The Art Institute of California San Diego
  • The Art Institute of California San Francisco
  • The Art Institute of California Sunnyvale
  • The Master's College and Seminary
  • The National Hispanic University
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • Touro College Los Angeles
  • Trident University International
  • Unitek College
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of California Davis
  • University of California Irvine
  • University of California Los Angeles
  • University of California Merced
  • University of California Riverside
  • University of California San Diego
  • University of California Santa Barbara
  • University of California Santa Cruz
  • University of La Verne
  • University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus
  • University of Phoenix Central Valley Campus
  • University of Phoenix Sacramento Valley Campus
  • University of Phoenix San Diego Campus
  • University of Phoenix Southern California Campus
  • University of Redlands
  • University of San Diego
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Southern California
  • University of the Pacific
  • University of the West
  • Vanguard University of Southern California
  • Ventura College
  • Victor Valley College
  • West Coast Ultrasound Institute
  • West Coast University Los Angeles
  • West Coast University Ontario
  • West Coast University Orange County
  • West Hills College Coalinga
  • West Hills College Lemoore
  • West Los Angeles College
  • West Valley College
  • Westmont College
  • Westwood College Anaheim
  • Westwood College Inland Empire
  • Westwood College Los Angeles
  • Westwood College South Bay
  • Whittier College
  • William Jessup University
  • Woodbury University
  • Woodland Community College
  • World Mission University
  • Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad West Coast Talmudical Seminary
  • Yuba College

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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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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