There's no getting around it: if your high school, college, or university has leveled a Title IX charge at you, you're facing an uphill battle. It isn't just that the law is complex and the procedures difficult to navigate. In today's political climate, no one is going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your school doesn't want to look soft on offenders, so they'll do anything they can, even bend the rules, to find you “responsible” (guilty).
There's good news, though: current Title IX guidelines entitle you to choose an advisor, someone to help you defend yourself. Even better, that advisor can be an attorney. You don't want just any attorney, though. You want to choose someone who knows the system, someone who can protect your rights at every step along the way. You need a Title IX attorney.
How Title IX Works
Why do you need an advisor who's an expert in Title IX? Title IX is a complex law with lots of tricky procedural rules. It's easy to get lost, and the smallest mistake can hurt your chances of proving your innocence.
Here's just a rough outline of what Title IX has to say:
- Your university must have Title IX Coordinator, someone who is responsible for receiving complaints and deciding whether or not those complaints should be investigated. Only a complainant or the Coordinator can initiate an investigation against you.
- If you are being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with written notice of the charges against you. This notice must include details about the allegation and the name of your accuser. In addition, it should remind you of your rights. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible,” you have the right to an advisor, and you have the right to review all the evidence against you.
- The Coordinator is also responsible for choosing an Investigator to look into the case. This person meets separately with both you and the complainant. They also track down witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
- Your school should have a time limit on how long the investigation can last. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator writes a complete summary of their findings. Both you and the complainant then have an opportunity to review this report and suggest any revisions before it is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- Under Title IX, college students have the right to defend themselves at a live hearing. High schools sometimes offer hearings as well, but Title IX does not require them to.
- At the hearing, you have an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. In addition, you may—through your advisor—cross-examine the complainant and any witnesses against you. The complainant has the same opportunity.
- At most schools, the Coordinator appoints a single hearing officer to conduct the hearing and decide the case. Some schools, however, use a panel of three or even five decision-makers.
- Decision-makers use the “preponderance of evidence” standard to reach their conclusions. Somewhat less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” this standard requires decision-makers to find you “responsible” if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- You may appeal the outcome of the hearing. However, there is usually a time limit for doing so, and you'll only be allowed to file an appeal under certain very specific circumstances. These include the discovery of new evidence, the revelation of procedural mistakes, or the demonstration of clear bias on the part of a Title IX official. Again, the complainant has a right to appeal the decision as well.
Choosing an Advisor
At this point, it should be clear why you need an attorney. How do you go about finding one, though? Do a Google search, and you'll find thousands of lawyers making all kinds of promises. How do you know which ones to trust?
First and foremost, you need an advisor who has a background in Title IX. A local attorney will understand how your community justice system works, and that can be useful in lots of instances. However, Title IX is a federal law, and only someone who specializes in Title IX cases can really understand its many complexities. In fact, because Title IX is a federal law, you don't actually need an attorney from Mississippi. You need someone who knows the law, someone with experience defending clients from sexual misconduct charges.
So, how exactly do you go about finding this person? You need to ask any prospective attorney three important questions:
- How many Title IX cases have they been involved with?
- How many successful Title IX cases have they defended?
- What is their strategy for dealing with the very specific demands of your case?
The right advisor will be the lawyer who can give you the right answers.
Joseph D. Lento, Title IX Attorney
A Title IX defense is serious business. You're going to need the very best help you can find. The minimum penalty in such cases is typically suspension. Far more often, schools expel students who they find responsible for violations. Expulsion usually means the end of your academic career, and that could have serious repercussions on your entire future.
Joseph D. Lento is a nationally recognized Title IX attorney. Over the course of his career, he's defended hundreds of students from all kinds of misconduct charges, from simple verbal harassment to more serious allegations like sexual assault and date rape. He knows the law, and he understands how schools operate.
Most importantly, Joseph D. Lento is empathetic to your situation. He knows schools try to bend the rules. He knows they frequently impose sanctions that are far too severe for the offense. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career to fighting for students' rights and to making sure all his clients are treated fairly. Whatever your situation, he can do the same thing for you.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Mississippi, don't try to handle it yourself. You need a Title IX attorney on your side. To find out more, contact the Lento Law Firm's Mississippi office today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.
Mississippi 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:
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey University
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 future 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 Mississippi and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.