Don’t Speak to Code of Conduct Officials Without an Attorney-Advisor

Behavioral Misconduct Charges. Colleges and universities maintain student codes of conduct that regulate student behavior beyond academic misconduct, sexual misconduct, and Title IX sexual misconduct. Those student behavioral issues that codes of conduct regulate include things like trespass, misuse of school computers, vandalism or other property destruction, drunk and disorderly conduct, hazing, classroom disruption, and crimes of dishonesty or violence. Colleges and universities enforce those conduct codes, just as they enforce their academic, sexual, and Title IX codes against those other forms of misconduct. Enforcement can mean suspension or expulsion from the college or university. If you face code of conduct charges at your college or university, treat the matter with the seriousness that it deserves. Promptly retain premier nationwide misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm.

Think Before You Speak. College or university code of conduct charges rightly unnerve the accused student. Many students assume that their personal behavior is their personal behavior and none of the school's business. Students may assume that their alcohol or drug abuse, harmless trespasses into secure school facilities, vandalism pranks, personal use of school equipment and computers, fights with classmates, and other youthful misbehaviors won't affect their enrollment. That's why a notice of misconduct charges can be so unnerving. Many students in that situation have the knee-jerk reaction of promptly meeting with school misconduct officials, admitting to everything, including things they did not do, and throwing themselves on the mercy of those officials. Some students believe college is like high school, where students get coddled, coached, and guided more than evaluated and punished. That knee-jerk reaction to speak unprepared and unguardedly with any and all school officials is wrong and can come back to haunt the accused student.

Consult Before You Speak. The best thing to do when facing a code of conduct charge is not to rush to speak to school officials. It is instead to promptly consult and retain a misconduct defense attorney. A college misconduct defense attorney will help you evaluate the nature and seriousness of the charge. An attorney advisor will also help you obtain, review, and evaluate the evidence against you. Above all, the attorney advisor will help you resist the urge to speak unprepared and ill-informed with any and every school official. When addressing misconduct charges, preparation means a lot. Your attorney advisor can not only help you get the details of the school's charges and the school's incriminating evidence. Your attorney advisor can also help you understand the implications of that evidence and how your information will support or contradict it. When you do speak to school officials, you will then speak well informed of all the facts and well aware of the consequences of your words and actions.

Speak to the Right, Not the Wrong, Official. Consulting a college misconduct defense attorney will also help you understand with which school or other officials to speak. Your school may have several officials closely or indirectly involved in your misconduct proceeding. Some of those officials may be proceeding administrators, while others are investigators, decision-makers, or school prosecutors (officials with the responsibility to pursue and prove the charge). Your vigorous advocacy with one official may have no impact on your proceeding at all, while your ignorance of another official's interest in hearing from you may have a great impact. In short, you need to know the role of the official with whom you speak. You also benefit from knowing their motive, intent, bias, and interest. An attorney advisor can help you speak only with the neutral, independent, and unbiased investigators and decision-makers who would most benefit from your exonerating statement or evidence.

Preserve Rights and Privileges. Code of conduct charges often implicate criminal conduct. Things like unlawful purchase, use, and sale or sharing of alcohol, drugs, and marijuana by minors or for minors are frequently charged crimes on and around college campuses. So are vandalism or other property destruction crimes, property theft crimes, and trespass crimes. Assault and battery criminal charges for fights are also common. When a student accused of college code of conduct charges admits the charges to school officials, the student may simultaneously be admitting to crimes. Campus and local police, and local prosecutors, can use those admissions to school officials as evidence in court against the student. Students, though, have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. A student whom a school accuses of a code of conduct violation that is also a crime may well be far better to remain silent, as the privilege permits, than to say anything to school officials. Consulting a college misconduct defense attorney helps the accused student evaluate the likelihood of criminal charges and whether to remain silent.

Speak Once, Not Often. Another hazard of proceeding alone, without consulting a college misconduct defense attorney, and speaking early in your misconduct proceeding, is that you will likely need to speak again later, and perhaps again later than that. Code of conduct proceedings tend to gather steam as the hearing date nears, with more investigation completed and more information available. The charges may even change. If you speak to misconduct officials early, at a preliminary stage of the proceeding, you may have missed addressing issues and evidence that arises later in the proceeding. And so, you may want and need to speak again, repeatedly, each time a new development occurs. That's fine, except that each time you speak, you create another record with which the school can impeach your hearing testimony. Your successive accounts will also inevitably change, at least in small details, leaving an impression that your memory or ability to communicate is poor or even that you are lying. An attorney advisor would encourage and guide you to speaking once, when, and to whom it most matters so that you aren't creating credibility problems for yourself.

Misconduct Defense Attorney Available. If your college or university has notified you of a student code of conduct violation, then don't rush in to try to explain away the charge. And don't rely on a local attorney who lacks the knowledge and skill of academic administrative misconduct matters. Instead, retain premier nationwide misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm. You have too much at stake to rely on anyone other than the best available national misconduct defense attorney. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide successfully defend code of conduct misconduct charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online.

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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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