A Title IX accusation is one of the most serious situations any high school or college student can face. If you should be found responsible for sexual misconduct, the minimum penalty will probably be suspension. More likely, your school will expel you altogether.
Defending yourself from such a charge is no easy proposition. Title IX is a complicated law involving many complex rules and procedures. Many schools do everything they can to give accusers preferential treatment at the expense of the accused.
Luckily, the law does guarantee you some important due process rights. Among these, you have the right to choose an advisor to help you prepare and present your case. In addition, Title IX says this advisor can be an attorney. Given how much is at stake, not just any lawyer will do. You're going to need a qualified, experienced Title IX attorney in your corner.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
If your school receives federal funds, it is required to follow Title IX guidelines for all investigations. These can be difficult for respondents (the accused) to navigate on their own.
Here's just a partial list of what the law mandates:
- Title IX requires all schools to have a Title IX Coordinator. This official decides whether or not to investigate a sexual misconduct allegation.
- If you are being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with written notice of the charges. This should include details about the allegation as well as the name of the complainant (accuser).
- In addition to the right to an advisor, you have the right to be presumed not-responsible until proven responsible. You also have the right to review any evidence against you.
- The Coordinator will appoint the Investigator in the case. This person will meet separately with both you and the complainant. They will also collect physical evidence and interview any witnesses. You have the right to submit evidence to this official and to suggest witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator must complete a written report summarizing their findings. Both sides have ten days to review this document and suggest any revisions before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- If you're a college student, the next step in the process is a live hearing. Some high schools hold hearings as well. However, Title IX doesn't require them to do so.
- Your hearing might be conducted by a single individual, or it might be overseen by a panel of three to five decision-makers.
- Hearings must be live, but either side may request accommodations like privacy screens or closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, you and the complainant will both have a chance to present your side of the story. You can submit evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you can—through your advisor—question the complainant and any witnesses against you.
- In most cases, decision-makers use a standard known as “preponderance of evidence” to decide whether or not you are responsible for a violation. According to this standard, they must find you responsible if they believe it is more than fifty percent likely you committed an offense.
- Both you and the complainant have a limited right to appeal the outcome of the hearing. There will be a time limit on filing your appeal, and you can only file for certain very specific reasons, including the discovery of new evidence or the revelation of procedural mistakes.
You should know that Title IX is a politically sensitive law. As such, it is subject to frequent change. The Trump administration, for instance, instituted new rules in 2020. Almost immediately upon taking office, President Biden began working to repeal most of these rules. Only a Title IX attorney knows enough about the law and its history to make sure you don't make any missteps.
Choosing An Advisor
You know you need an attorney to help you with your case. How exactly do you go about finding one, though? If you do a Google search, you'll quickly discover there are literally thousands of lawyers out there. As you might expect, not all are created equal.
You might be tempted to hire a local or family attorney to handle your case. This seems like an easy choice. You may think it will be easier to talk about embarrassing aspects of your personal life with someone who knows you. Unfortunately, most family attorneys just don't have the background to deal with a Title IX defense. They may be great at drafting wills or representing clients in local disputes. Title IX, though, is a federal law, and only someone well-versed in Title IX understands how it operates.
What you want is a Title IX attorney, and it doesn't really matter where they're located. Remember: since Title IX is a federal law, your lawyer doesn't need to be from Hawaii. What matters most is that you choose someone with the right qualifications.
How do you know if an attorney is qualified? You can find out pretty quickly by asking three simple questions:
- How many Title IX cases have you dealt with?
- What's your success rate with Title IX cases?
- What specific strategies would you use to handle my case?
The right attorney will have the right answers to all three of these questions.
Joseph D. Lento, Title IX Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a fully qualified defense attorney, but he's not just any defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento specializes in Title IX cases. Over the years, he hasn't just taken on one or two of these cases. He's helped hundreds of students just like you defend themselves from all kinds of sexual misconduct charges. Joseph D. Lento knows the law, and he knows its history.
Whatever your situation, Joseph D. Lento is empathetic. He knows how schools operate. He's seen them try to deny students their rights. He knows they often treat respondents unfairly, and they almost always assign draconian sanctions that far outweigh the nature of the offense. He's committed to stopping them. You can trust Joseph D. Lento to stand beside you from beginning to end and to get you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Hawaii, get help now. Contact the Lento Law Firm's Hawaii office today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
Hawaii colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Argosy University Hawaii
- Brigham Young University Hawaii
- Chaminade University of Honolulu
- Hawaii Community College
- Hawaii Pacific University
- Heald College Honolulu
- Honolulu Community College
- Kapiolani Community College
- Kauai Community College
- Leeward Community College
- New Hope Christian College
- Remington College Honolulu Campus
- University of Hawaii at Hilo
- University of Hawaii at Manoa
- University of Hawaii Maui College
- University of Hawaii West Oahu
- University of Phoenix Hawaii Campus
- Windward Community College
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor and educational consultant to students facing disciplinary cases in Hawaii and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.