If you've been accused of sexual misconduct by your college or university, there's no sugar-coating it: your situation is serious. In today's political climate, no school can afford to look soft when dealing with these sorts of allegations. Of course, they can't send to prison. Only a judge can do that. At a minimum, though, you can expect they will suspend you if you're found responsible. More likely, they'll expel you.
That doesn't mean all is lost. You can get through this, but it's not going to be easy. Your very first job is to find out all you can about how your school's justice system works. Then, find the very best Title IX attorney you can to represent you. The more you know, the better you'll be able to defend yourself, but you can't hope to do it alone. You're going to need help from a professional.
Understanding Title IX
The odds are that California State, San Marcos will investigate your case using guidelines set out in Title IX. What is Title IX? It's a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination in US schools. It's worth knowing that it has a complicated history, and its rules are subject to change. Here's what it says for now:
- Your school must have a Title IX Coordinator who receives all reports of sexual misconduct. Anyone at your school may make an allegation against you, but only a complainant (accuser) or the Coordinator themselves can sign an official complaint.
- Once the Coordinator has signed a complaint, they must notify you of the charges. This notice will include important details about the allegation as well as a list of your rights under the law. Among these, you have the right to choose an advisor to help you with your case. This advisor can be an attorney. In addition, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty).
- The Coordinator will appoint an Investigator to review the case. The Investigator usually begins by separately interviewing both parties. In addition, this person will collect any physical evidence and talk to any witnesses. Investigations must be completed within 100 working days.
- At the end of the investigation, the Investigator will create a written summary of their findings. Both sides then have ten days to make revision suggestions for this document before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Once the Coordinator receives the Investigative Report, they choose a date and time for a hearing. They also select a Hearing Coordinator to organize the proceedings and a Hearing Officer to hear the case. At Cal State, San Marcos, this Officer is solely responsible for the outcome of the case.
- The hearing itself must be conducted live, though either side may request that it be held via closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, both sides have an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. You may also cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you. However, only advisors may actually ask the questions.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer must decide whether or not you are responsible for sexual misconduct and assign any sanctions to you as necessary. Their decision must be based on the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” demands you be found responsible if the Officer believes it is “more likely than not” you committed a violation.
- You can appeal the Hearing Officer's decision under certain very specific conditions. These include:
- An outcome unsupported by the facts
- A procedural irregularity
- New evidence
- Bias on the part of a Title IX official
- A sanction that is disproportionate to the offense
Complainants are entitled to appeal the Hearing Officer's decision as well.
Non-Title IX Cases
Most sexual misconduct cases are Title IX cases, but not all. At Cal State, San Marcos, you can also be investigated and adjudicated under what's known as “non-Title IX” procedures. These are designed to address misconduct that doesn't fall under Title IX definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” or that doesn't take place on campus.
At CSUSM, procedures in non-Title IX cases are essentially the same as those for Title IX cases if the proposed sanction is suspension or expulsion. That is, an investigation takes place, after which you have an opportunity to defend yourself at a hearing.
However, if the sanction is less than suspension, the process is somewhat different. Most significant: you won't be allowed a hearing. Instead, the Investigator is solely responsible for both investigating and deciding the case.
Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Attorney
Knowing what you're up against in a sexual misconduct case is half the battle. It's not the whole battle, though. Just because you understand how the process works does not make you qualified to design a defense strategy or formulate questions for witnesses.
You're going to need an attorney and not just any sort of attorney. A family or local lawyer just won't do. You need what's known as a Title IX attorney, someone who's spent their career studying the law. You should keep in mind that it doesn't matter where your Title IX attorney is based. Their location is far less important than their knowledge of the law.
Joseph D. Lento has handled hundreds of sexual misconduct cases, both Title IX and non-Title IX. He's defended clients just like you from every kind of charge, from verbal harassment to date rape. He knows the law. He also knows how colleges and universities operate. Joseph D. Lento understands what you're up against. He's seen schools mistreat students, deny them their rights, and subject them to unfair procedures. He's made it his mission in life to stop them.
Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He's sympathetic to your cause and empathetic to your situation. He knows just what your family is going through, and he'll do everything he can to make the process as painless as possible. You can count on Joseph D. Lento to get you the best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.