Most Americans view college as a prerequisite to the career that they seek. They invest countless portions of their lives studying, engaging in extracurriculars, and taking other steps to ensure admittance to the school of their dreams. Once they prepare to enroll, most students find out that college requires an investment greater than time or effort—it requires lots of money, often borrowed with interest.
As recently as the late 1970s, it cost about $8,250 per year to attend a public university. Today, the same education costs more than $21,000, and the rate of rising tuition and fees is only accelerating. This is an astounding price to pay, and it is the cheap option by comparison.
Those who attend private colleges pay today significantly more than students at ranked public universities—73% more, according to U.S. News & World Report. As recently as 1970, the average annual cost of attending a private, four-year university was around $1,500 per year. Today, the same cost is $32,769, on average. Many private universities charge students far more than this.
These monetary costs are extremely relevant if you face allegations of collegiate misconduct. Being expelled, suspended, or simply reprimanded may immediately reduce your chances of securing a well-paying job. Your ability to pay off student loans may take a hit, and your quality of life will likely suffer.
Let an experienced attorney-advisor defend you against misconduct allegations. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm specialize in student defense. He will fight to defend your name and allow you to graduate without sanctions.
What Are Some Common Types of Collegiate Misconduct?
As the Lento Law Firm handles student defense cases day in and day out nationwide, we have seen the many ways that students run afoul of university policies. Misconduct cases that we handle often involve:
Most, if not every, American university has a clear policy regarding academic misconduct. A charge of academic misconduct may stem from an allegation that you:
- Plagiarized by claiming or implying that someone else's ideas or words were your own
- Received answers from another student or a third party when you were not permitted to do so
- Gained access to an examination in advance of the test
- Falsified information that you used in an academic assignment
- Provided answers or an examination to another student
- Engaged in some other prohibited form of collaboration
- Did anything else that violated the university's academic honor code
Allegations of academic misconduct have soared in a time when remote learning is widespread. Whether you are an online student or attend classes in person, alleged academic misconduct can have lasting negative effects.
You generally have the right to defend yourself against an allegation of academic misconduct. Whether or not the allegation(s) against you are credible, you need a strong defense.
Your university's code of conduct likely details what is and is not acceptable behavior by students. Though this code generally defines academic misconduct, it may also dictate:
- The university's policy regarding alcohol possession and use, particularly for underage students
- The university's policy if you are found in possession of drugs by a university official (including a resident assistant) or law enforcement officials
- Which behaviors between students the university prohibits, such as hazing, harassment, intimidation, and stalking
- The university's policy regarding appropriate and inappropriate behavior online
- Other prohibited behaviors that may result in dismissal, suspension, and other sanctions issued by the college
The university's approach to behavioral misconduct may be even more punitive than its handling of academic misconduct. If the school claims that you put any other party at risk of harm, then it may claim to have no choice other than to expel you.
Title IX Sexual Misconduct
Colleges across the nation have faced criticism for the way they handle sexual misconduct allegations. A primary concern is that those accused of sexual misconduct do not always receive due process. These concerns persist in light of legislation that may remove certain due process protections for students accused of sexual harassment, coercion, and other types of misconduct.
Having an attorney is crucial if you are accused of sexual wrongdoing. The rights of the accused in these cases may already be limited. An attorney-advisor will ensure that you receive the due process you deserve.
Honor Code Violations
Private and public universities often produce distinct honor codes that students must follow. Although honor codes often relate to academic integrity, any given honor code may also cover some of the issues we've already described—behavioral standards, academic expectations, peer relationships, sexual misconduct, etc. Honor codes may also impose other requirements upon students.
Any violation of your school's honor code may result in formal sanctions. Your university will take an alleged honor code violation seriously, and you must give similar gravity to your defense.
COVID-19 Policy Misconduct
As students return to their campuses, they do so with unprecedented health and safety protocols in place. Many universities have exercised their power to:
- Require all students participating in on-campus programs to have a COVID-19 vaccination and show proof of vaccination
- Test all students for COVID-19 upon their arrival on campus
- Require both vaccinated and unvaccinated students participating in on-campus programs to receive regular COVID-19 testing
- Require students to wear facemasks in certain areas of the campus or under specific conditions
- Limit the capacity of certain gatherings
- Impose other measures related specifically to COVID-19 health and safety
Some universities require students to sign a COVID contract detailing behaviors prohibited in the name of health and safety. Your school may view this contract as grounds to issue sanctions—perhaps even dismissing you from school—if you violate the terms.
You may have a valid reason for circumventing your school's COVID-19 policies—a medical or religious exemption, for example. Or, you may have made a mistake but are deserving of leniency.
There are seemingly endless ways to violate a university's policies, either knowingly or unknowingly. When you find yourself facing potential sanctions for any type of alleged misconduct, do not merely accept sanctions and do not refuse the help of an attorney-advisor. There is too much at stake. Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team lead your case.
What Are Possible Sanctions for Collegiate Misconduct?
The type of sanctions that you face for collegiate misconduct generally depends on:
- The specific type of misconduct that you stand accused of
- The severity of the allegations against you
- Your university's sanctioning guidelines for the specific misconduct you are accused of
- Whether you have been accused of, or deemed responsible for, misconduct before
Your case type matters. Possible sanctions for cheating may be significantly different than sanctions for alleged sexual misconduct, as one example. Generally, universities have a broad range of sanctions at their disposal, including:
- Issuing a formal reprimand in your student record
- Issuing you a failing grade on an assignment
- Issuing you a failing grade for an entire course
- Suspending you from the university
- Barring you from on-campus activities or forbidding you from being on campus at all
- Temporary dismissal from the university (you may be allowed to re-apply at a certain time)
- Permanent dismissal from the university
These are only a few of the many formal consequences that a university may levy against you. It is natural to view a formal reprimand as a less serious sanction than dismissal—it is. However, you should view even the least serious sanction as a threat to your future goals, both professional and personal.
What Is the Real Cost of Collegiate Misconduct?
There is no single way to measure the cost of collegiate misconduct. Sanctions against students cause too many negative outcomes to narrow the cost to any single statistic.
Consider, though, that students who take out loans to attend college have nearly $30,000 in debt, on average, when they graduate. If you graduate on time with good grades, then this debt may be palatable. If you receive any sort of sanction, particularly suspension or dismissal, then your debt may suddenly loom large.
If the university finds you responsible for wrongdoing and you do not successfully appeal, then you may:
- Have a gap in your academic record (due to suspension or dismissal) that you will have to explain to universities that you apply to in the future, prospective employers, and accreditation boards
- Be unable to gain admittance to another university, whether to complete undergraduate studies or for graduate school
- Be unable to pursue your profession of choice because an accreditation board rejects you
- Earn less than you anticipated because you cannot enter your preferred field or because you must accept a less prestigious position than you aimed for
When one domino falls after a university misconduct issue, many more may follow. Your inability to fulfill your professional goals may put a financial strain on you and those who depend on you. Your relationships and personal well-being may suffer immensely.
The cost of college misconduct can be financial, professional, and personal, and the toll can be significant. An effective defense and appeal, if necessary, are your best options for avoiding these steep consequences.
What Should You Do After You Receive Notice of Allegations?
You must show controlled urgency after you receive notice of misconduct allegations against you. The first thing you can do is hire an attorney-advisor, as their experience may save you valuable time and effort.
Priorities that you and/or your attorney may address are:
- Documenting precisely what led to allegations of wrongdoing, from your perspective
- Speaking with any witnesses who may provide favorable testimony
- Gathering any evidence that helps clear you of wrongdoing
- Engaging the parties who will handle your misconduct case, particularly those who may make the case against you
- Determine what unfavorable evidence, if any, adjudicators have against you
We will defend your rights from the moment we become your attorney-advisor. We will vet any statements that you make and advise you on whether you should speak at all. Saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could have significant negative effects. As a general rule, we will handle case-related communications and duties.
What Types of Students Can Benefit From an Attorney-Advisor?
Any student that is facing allegations of wrongdoing may benefit from hiring an attorney-advisor. This includes:
- Undergraduate students
- Law students
- Medical students
- Nursing students
- MBA students
- Dental students
- Other graduate students
- Education students
- Pharmacy students
- International students
If you are a college student facing any issue that could negatively affect you, then it is wise to hire an attorney for your case.
Why Hire an Attorney-Advisor for Your Collegiate Misconduct Case?
Life continues when you are accused of wrongdoing. You now face a massive responsibility to defend yourself, and you shoulder all of the worry and anxiety that comes with an allegation of misconduct. You also must deal with all the responsibilities that you had before your misconduct case arose.
It only makes sense to have an attorney manage your case. Your attorney-advisor may:
- Have knowledge and experience that saves you from wasting time on unnecessary research and fruitless case strategies
- Have experience with the adjudication process at your university
- Understand the most effective defenses for misconduct cases like yours
- Have several in-firm resources, like investigators and paralegals, that are a great benefit to you
An attorney-advisor will organize evidence, prepare for any upcoming hearings, and accompany you to every case-related meeting that you must attend. Depending on university policy, they may give an oral case in your defense, present witnesses, and cross-examine your accuser(s).
Critically, your attorney-advisor will appeal any ruling against you. Your school may have strict rules and deadlines for appeal. It is generally best to hire an attorney long before an appeal, as they will be prepared to appeal quickly and effectively if this step becomes necessary.
If your school violated your rights in any way, then you may even consider suing the school. As your attorney-advisor, our first priority will be to combat allegations of wrongdoing against you. We can discuss further litigation options once we have cleared your name.
Why Hire Attorney Joseph D. Lento in Particular?
Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately defends students across the United States day in and day out. He understands the immense pressure that collegians today face. With the cost of attending college at an all-time high, students feel that they must graduate on time and with stellar grades or be saddled with unpayable debt. These high expectations can cause young people to act in ways that they normally wouldn't. They may even engage in misconduct.
If you have made a misstep or been accused falsely of wrongdoing, do not let your current circumstances define your future. The Lento Law Firm specializes in college student issues. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is highly qualified and prepared to fight for the best possible case outcome.
You must take the long view when weighing the cost of university-issued sanctions. The effects of such sanctions may taint graduate school applications, job interviews, accreditation applications, and the overall quality of your life.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your case. You may also submit your case online. Do not wait to get help, as the clock on preparing your defense may already be ticking.