High School Title IX Versus Criminal Cases

Title IX violations are serious business for a high school student and their concerned parents to face. High school allegations of Title IX violations can mark a student as untrustworthy and even of bad character, at an early and formative stage of life. Those impressions can burden the student, and keep them from achieving their hopes, dreams, and ambitions. Penalties for Title IX violations can include not only warnings and reprimands but also suspensions and even expulsions. The impacts of a Title IX expulsion can be long lasting, not only interrupting the high school education but potentially affecting college and careers. How your high school student responds to Title IX violations, and the expert attorney representation you retain for your student, can make a huge difference in the trajectory of your student's life. Get the help of national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento when your high school student faces allegations of Title IX violations.

When you learn that your child has been accused by their school of a Title IX offense such as

  • sexual assault including date rape or dating violence,
  • other non-consensual sexual touching,
  • consensual sexual activity with an underage minor,
  • stalking, or
  • sexual harassment including sexually offensive conduct,

you might immediately think about hiring a criminal defense attorney to defend your child in court and keep them out of jail. That is a good instinct, but you must take care because Title IX allegations are NOT criminal charges. There are significant differences between the two that you must consider to ensure you retain the right attorney for the Title IX case to provide your child with the best defense.

Different Investigations

Title IX cases involve different investigations than criminal cases. School Title IX coordinators or other designated administrators conduct a Title IX investigation, not police and detectives like a criminal case. Those Title IX investigators build a case for a Title IX violation by interviewing students, teachers, and staff including the accused student. Title IX investigators have much more freedom to contact and communicate with the accused student than police would have. The accused student does not, for instance, have a right against self-incrimination or a right traditional legal counsel during the investigation stage, like a defendant would have in a criminal case. The significant differences in Title IX and criminal case investigations mean that you need a Title IX defense attorney, not a criminal defense attorney, when protecting your accused student from an unfair investigation. Your Title IX defense attorney will know how to accomplish that important goal, whereas a local criminal defense attorney would ordinarily not know.

Different Evidence

The Title IX coordinator or investigator building the Title IX case against your accused student can also use different evidence in that case. Hearsay statements, statements without foundation, and unauthenticated documents can form the basis for a Title IX case, when a court of law would never allow them in a criminal case. Title IX cases also have none of the protections of criminal case evidentiary rules like those requiring police to establish a chain of evidence. Schools also have considerably greater rights to conduct warrantless searches of students, student backpacks and bags, and student lockers, than police would have in a criminal case. Students facing a Title IX proceeding have no real opportunity to challenge and exclude evidence that school investigators gather in ways that would, in a criminal case, violate the accused's constitutional rights.

In short, a Title IX case gives the accused student virtually no chance to exclude evidence that a court of law would routinely exclude in a criminal case. Your Title IX attorney would nonetheless know how to build a successful defense with positive evidence exonerating your student and mitigating any violation. A local criminal defense attorney would generally not know how to address Title IX evidence that would never make it to court in a criminal case. You need national Title IX defense attorney Joseph Lento for your accused student's Title IX defense, not a local criminal defense attorney.

Different Elements

The elements of a Title IX violation, meaning what the school must prove, are also different than the elements of criminal charges. California's criminal offensive touching statute, also called sexual battery, is an example. Prosecutors in a criminal case in that state must prove each of these several elements, beyond a reasonable doubt, to prove the offensive touching charge: "Any person who touches an intimate part of another person while that person is unlawfully restrained by the accused or an accomplice, and if the touching is against the will of the person touched and is for the purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, is guilty of sexual battery."

In contrast, a Title IX violation based on sexual assault or sexual harassment, near equivalents to criminal offensive touching, do not require proof of unlawful restraint. Touching without restraint might well do. A Title IX violation also does not necessarily require that the touching be of the victim's intimate part. Any sexual touching, such as rubbing of shoulders or touching of hair, might well do. And a Title IX violation also does not necessarily require that the contact be for the accused's sexual arousal or gratification. Sexual touching for other purposes might well do. And the proof burden for a Title IX violation is merely a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. A local criminal defense lawyer would not generally know these difference or know how to handle a Title IX defense in which a violation is far easier to prove. Your accused student needs a premier Title IX defense attorney, not a local criminal defense attorney.

Different Forums and Procedures

A Title IX proceeding is an academic administrative proceeding. Your student's high school will address and decide your student's Title IX charges in a school proceeding that school officials conduct. An academic administrative proceeding generally follows a few published rules that the school itself writes and that school administrators interpret. Those school rules tend to only outline, rather than provide details for, what will happen as the proceeding moves along. Those few rules can be important. But unwritten customs and conventions, rather than detailed published rules, tend to guide academic administrative proceedings. Your Title IX defense attorney must know those unwritten customs and conventions if your high school student is to have an effective and successful Title IX defense. And school administrators and staff carry out those Title IX procedures, not trained court personnel. Those school administrators and staff are usually busy running the school and may have no or virtually no experience in conflict resolution procedures.

In contrast, criminal courts address and resolve criminal charges using professional dispute-resolution officials who have procedural knowledge, skills, education, and training. Their full-time jobs and careers are in dispute resolution, unlike the school officials who decide Title IX violations. The criminal court will also follow detailed published rules of criminal procedure that legislatures write and state supreme courts adopt to govern criminal cases. Criminal proceedings also have their own unwritten customs and conventions, but they have little chance of affecting the outcome of a proceeding. Well documented Constitutional rights, statutory provisions, and court rules govern criminal cases. And once again, as mentioned above, the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt burden of proof in a criminal case is far higher than the typical preponderance, or more-probable-than-not, standard for a Title IX proceeding. Your accused student needs an expert Title IX defense attorney for the Title IX proceeding, not a local criminal defense attorney.

Different Rights

Title IX regulations provide the accused student with significant procedural protections compared to the limited protections that schools generally afford for academic and other non-Title IX misconduct. In a high school case charging academic misconduct, the accused student may get spare notice of the academic allegations and a brief meeting with the teacher or principal before facing whatever punishment the school imposes. In contrast, in a Title IX proceeding, the high school must detail the alleged Title IX violations to the accused student in writing. The high school must also generally share investigation results with the accused student, permit the accused student to review and correct the investigation report, offer the student a formal hearing, permit the student to present witnesses and exhibits at the hearing, permit the student and student's Title IX defense attorney to cross-examine adverse witnesses and grant the student an appeal of any adverse decision.

These and other Title IX procedural rights and protections are relatively extensive, giving the accused student's Title IX defense attorney ample opportunity to defend and defeat the charges. But these rights are virtually useless if you, your accused student, and your accused student's retained attorney do not know those rights and deploy them strategically. Your accused student's retained attorney must not only know the Title IX rules but demand that the school respect them. School officials, who are after all often inexperienced in any such proceeding, will generally not follow the school's rules unless the accused student's attorney makes them do so. That's why you need to retain national Title IX defense attorney Joseph Lento to defend your accused student, rather than retaining a local defense attorney.

But student's rights in Title IX proceedings are limited compared to the rights of the accused in a criminal proceeding. Even before arrest and charge, an individual has rights against unreasonable search and seizure, rights to remain silent, rights against self-incrimination, and rights to counsel. Those rights continue in the criminal proceeding itself, in which the accused has other substantial rights. The prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution must disclose exonerating evidence. Evidence rules apply to bar hearsay and other inadmissible evidence. Constitutional rules apply to bar evidence obtained in violation of constitutional rights.

A local criminal defense attorney may know the criminal case rules quite well, but these rights will not protect a student in academic administrative Title IX proceedings. You need national Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento's representation for Title IX proceedings, not a local criminal defense attorney.

Different Penalties

As discussed above, Title IX penalties focus on the accused student's education, not the student's other rights and interests. The potential penalties in a Title IX proceeding include not only a warning or reprimand, or even extra assignments related to the alleged wrongdoing, counseling, courses, and education, but also suspension and even dismissal from the school. Suspension or dismissal can prevent your student from earning a high school diploma. Even if your student has a general equivalency diploma (GED) available later, the Title IX suspension or dismissal can prevent your student from maintaining a grade-point average (GPA), earning honors, doing well on standardized college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, and getting into a preferred college or university of choice. A Title IX penalty can thus affect a job and career, too.

In contrast, criminal charges generally affect none of those educational and career interest. Criminal charges often result in diversions, plea bargains, probation, suspended sentences, and similar relief that would enable the defendant to pretty much continue with life, including an education, without substantial impact. Fines and even incarceration may also be possible but unlikely for a high school student, depending on the nature of the charges and the age of the defendant and the complainant. Criminal records can also often be expunged at times, especially juvenile records, clearing any criminal history. None of that is true for Title IX violations, which can have very different, and often much more severe, impacts.

To help your high school student the most that you can, you need to understand as much as you can about the differences between Title IX allegations and criminal charges. You also need to promptly retain an expert Title IX defense attorney to represent your student, not just a local attorney who defends criminal cases. Fortunately, premier Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is available nationwide to represent high school students facing Title IX allegations, including in cases involving related criminal charges. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of students defend and defeat Title IX allegations across the United States. Retain Attorney Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm for your high school student's successful defense of Title IX allegations. Call 888.535.3686 or contact Attorney Lento online now.

Different Strategies

The above differences between a high school Title IX proceeding and a criminal case dictate very different strategies for the student's defense of each proceeding. A usually wise and strategic approach in a high school Title IX proceeding is for the accused student's Title IX defense attorney to cultivate a respectful and cooperative relationship with school disciplinary officials. The Title IX defense attorney must make clear to the officials that the accused student will be standing on the student's Title IX protections and rights. The Title IX defense attorney must also firmly present the accused student's best case of exonerating and mitigating evidence. But that firm and even aggressive advocacy on the accused student's behalf should not interfere with the joint effort of the student's Title IX defense attorney and school officials to do the right thing by the student and school. A defense approach that encourages the school to see how the accused student's interests align with the school's interests can lead to prompt, compromise, and acceptable resolution that preserves the student's clean record, educational opportunities, and future. Sensitivity and relationship are key. These are the strategies that premier Title IX defense attorney Joseph Lento knows how to deploy to defend your student in a high school Title IX proceeding.

In contrast, the typical and usually wise and strategic approach to defending a criminal case is for the defense attorney to raise and maximize every potential legitimate defense. Cooperation toward a jointly fruitful, early compromise is not the norm. The better defense approach to a criminal charge may instead be to show the prosecution that the defense can delay, extend, and complicate the proceeding to the point that the prosecution faces the additional risk of losing the case after having expended substantial prosecutorial resources. Relationships, confidence, clarity, and trust are not resolution tools. Instead, uncertainty, doubt, conflict, and dispute may be the things that increase prosecution risks, encouraging the prosecution to dismiss the charge and abandon the case or for the jury to find reasonable doubt and to reach a not guilty verdict. While a local criminal defense attorney may know these criminal case strategies well, a local criminal defense attorney would generally not know the very different strategies necessary to successfully defend a Title IX proceeding.

Criminal Defense Attorney Versus Title IX Attorney

These differences between high school Title IX and criminal case forums, rights, interests, expectations, and strategies mean that the high school student facing a Title IX proceeding needs a different kind of attorney from a local criminal defense attorney. National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has substantial criminal defense experience, knowledge, and skills. Attorney Lento has defended countless clients in criminal cases, especially in the earlier years of his law practice. Attorney Lento has the knowledge and skills to defend a high school student in a Title IX proceeding, whether related to criminal conduct or not. Attorney Lento has chosen to focus his nationwide practice on Title IX defense and other student misconduct defense, and he has become prominent in the field over the course of many years of hard-fought battles on behalf of students and families.

Criminal defense attorneys are generally widely available. Saying so is not in any way to diminish the importance of their services, the depth of their knowledge, or the quality of their skills. Prosecutors at the federal, state, county, and municipal levels charge lots and lots of crimes. Criminal cases, not civil cases, make up the vast majority of court filings. The enormous number of criminal cases nationwide means that every locale must have criminal defense attorneys available. Nearly every law student takes one or more courses in criminal law. Bar examinations routinely test criminal law for attorneys who seek state licensure. Nearly every lawyer thus has at least some criminal law knowledge, while many practicing lawyers have criminal case skills.

In contrast, few attorneys have substantial experience in academic administrative law, including Title IX defense. Law schools do not generally require students to study administrative law or Title IX law. Bar exams do not generally require attorneys who seek licensure to know administrative law or Title IX law. Relatively few lawyers thus know much, if any, administrative law or Title IX law. Even fewer attorneys have any experience in academic administrative law, on which Title IX charges get investigated, analyzed, evaluated, heard, and resolved. Academic administrative Title IX defense is, thus at most, a boutique law practice pursued by only a relative handful of attorneys, most prominently including national Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm.

Premier Title IX Defense Attorney Available

National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento is one of the very few lawyers who have established a specialty practice in academic administrative Title IX defense law. Attorney Lento is premier among those lawyers. Attorney Lento has devoted his law practice and career to defending high school, college, graduate school and professional school students nationwide against Title IX and other misconduct charges. Attorney Lento has assembled an expert team at the Lento Law firm to manage his student clients' cases efficiently and skillfully. Attorney Lento has also assembled a network of forensic and consulting experts for Title IX and other academic and behavioral misconduct cases. You likely did not imagine that such a devoted and specially skilled attorney and professional team were available for the aggressive and effective defense of your high school student. Fortunately, they are available.

If your student faces a high school Title IX proceeding, whether involving alleged criminal conduct or not, your student needs the best available Title IX defense attorney representation. National Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped high school students nationwide defend and defeat Title IX allegations. Attorney Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm are available for your student Title IX defense at any high school across the country. Retain an expert Title IX defense attorney now. Protect your high school student's future. Get the expert help your high school student needs. Call 888.535.3686 or contact Attorney Lento online now.

Contact Us Today!

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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