A student who learns that their college or university has commenced a proceeding charging them with sexual misconduct is likely to at least be alarmed or confused and may even be frightened. Don't panic. The accused student's response to charges will have a greater influence on the outcome than almost any other factor. Students facing false, exaggerated, or unfair sexual misconduct charges can, with the right actions, successfully defend and defeat those charges. Follow these steps to preserve your rights and perfect your defense.
Review the Allegations and Accompanying Information
Don't ignore your school's notice, complaint, or other contact or communication. Dodging notice of charges doesn't help. Instead, promptly open and carefully read any mail, email, or other correspondence or communication. Read any accompanying instructions, documentation, or resources. Quickly learn, from any information the school shares with you, as much as you can about the charges, including each of these considerations:
- the actions that the school alleges you took that constitute misconduct;
- when and where those actions allegedly occurred;
- who observed or complained about those actions;
- any video, photograph, writing, or other evidence supporting the charges;
- the procedures that the school has invoked against you;
- any actions the school is directing that you take now or later;
- any due date for your response or other expected action; and
- the office, address, and officials to whom you are to respond.
Retain Expert Legal Counsel
To successfully defend college sexual misconduct charges, the one most impactful action you can take is to retain and work closely with national academic attorney Joseph Lento who has long devoted his premier advocacy skills to representing accused students in college and university misconduct proceedings. Do not attempt to go it alone. With all that you have on the line in your education, with your degree and career potentially at stake, you need and deserve expert representation. The policies and procedures are too complex, and the strategic litigation skills too specialized, to leave yourself unrepresented, rely on school advisors who have conflicts of interest, or wing it relying on the uninformed advice of family and friends. Give yourself the chance you deserve by promptly hiring attorney Joseph Lento's expert representation.
Cooperate with Your Retained Counsel
Retaining the expert representation of national academic attorney Joseph Lento is a great early step, but you must then cooperate closely with your retained counsel. Let your retained counsel guide your steps while communicating, timely and firmly, with school officials. Having a lawyer is one thing. Putting that lawyer's full skills to use is another thing. Be sure that you are doing these things to ensure that your expert representative can raise and prevail on your best defense:
- tell your lawyer everything that happened, exactly as it happened;
- maintain your current email, telephone, and mailing address;
- promptly open all lawyer emails, texts, mail, or other communications;
- respond promptly, completely, and accurately to your lawyer's inquiries;
- prepare for interviews, conferences, and hearings as your lawyer asks;
- let your lawyer help you identify your achievable objectives in negotiation;
- trust your lawyer while remaining fully engaged in your matter.
Respect and Engage the Investigation Process
College and university sexual misconduct policies grant the school's investigators considerable authority, not only to interview the accuser, accused, and witnesses, and not only to build an investigation case file, but also to write investigation reports making or recommending findings on the charges. Accused students can win or lose cases in the investigation phase, which tends to set the rest of the proceeding's course. You should thus treat the investigation process with the utmost respect, while engaging it as fully as appropriate. Your expert attorney representative should guide your participation, which may include these actions:
- share with the investigator the name and contact information for every exonerating witness;
- summarize for the investigator what every exonerating witness saw or knows;
- gather, print, or otherwise preserve and copy for the investigator every exonerating email, text, video, photo, or other writing or image;
- attend your investigation interview with your documentation, fully prepared to tell your side of the complete story;
- be scrupulously accurate and detailed in everything you tell the investigator or share with the investigator;
- review the investigation case file and report in detail, correcting every error and supplementing with missing exonerating information;
- treat the investigator with respect, civilly, and without abusive language, while recognizing that the investigator is not your representative or friend.
The school and complainant may offer an accused student the opportunity for informal resolution. Informal resolution is voluntary and generally for less-serious charges. The school will generally offer informal resolution only if the conduct officer agrees that it is appropriate and the complainant is willing to participate rather than insisting on a formal hearing. The accused student also generally has the option of participating in informal resolution or demanding a hearing. In most cases, an accused student should participate in informal resolution, especially because informal resolution usually requires the agreement of both sides to any outcome. In most cases, it doesn't hurt to find out what voluntary resolution may be available. Informal resolution with attorney Joseph Lento's advice and representation may also generate creative solutions that avoid leaving any misconduct record. Participate earnestly in informal resolution if your attorney recommends that you do so.
When an accused student's matter proceeds to a formal hearing, that student should treat the hearing with the seriousness that it deserves. The accused student's attorney representative should guide the student in preparation and at the hearing, even if the school's procedures prevent the attorney from direct participation. College and university sexual misconduct procedures tend to permit the accused student to have an attorney representative, even if the attorney cannot cross-examine witnesses or otherwise participate directly. The accused student's attorney may recommend that the student prepare for and participate in the hearing through these actions:
- bring exonerating witnesses to testify or their statements if not available;
- prepare to question and challenge adverse witnesses or their statements;
- bring all helpful videos, photographs, writings, and records as exhibits;
- prepare to explain and give accurate context to adverse exhibits;
- tell nothing but the truth in relating relevant recollections and observations;
- prepare to explain any mitigating circumstances for actual violations.
Retain Premier Representation
A college sexual misconduct proceeding can challenge any accused student, with all that students have at stake in those proceedings. Administrative proceedings can also be complex, even mystifying. Don't miss your opportunity to retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to represent you from the outset and throughout your proceeding. Attorney Lento's premier representation can help you successfully defend and defeat college sexual misconduct charges. Retain attorney Lento today by calling 888.535.3686 or going online.