If you're a student facing a Title IX sexual misconduct charge, the very first thing you need to know is that you can't handle this situation by yourself. You're going to need help—the best, most professional help you can find. You're not looking for a local attorney, someone who knows all the other judges in town. You're not looking for a family attorney, someone who can make you feel more comfortable when you have to talk to strangers about your personal life. You want someone who knows the law, someone who understands how schools operate, someone who can win your case. You want a Title IX attorney.
Make no mistake: your entire future is on the line. The minimum penalty in most sexual misconduct cases is suspension. The more common penalty in such cases is expulsion. Title IX is a federal law with complex rules and procedures. You don't want to risk expulsion because you didn't understand how the rules work.
How Title IX Works
Taking on your school is never an easy prospect under any circumstances. If there's one thing academics do better than anyone else, it's red tape. When you're facing a Title IX allegation, though, you aren't just dealing with your school. You're dealing with the federal government. The rules and procedures aren't just mandated by some obscure policy. They have the force of law.
Here's a brief overview of just some of what you need to know as you prepare to defend yourself:
- Every school has a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school can accuse you. In fact, at some New Mexico schools, the faculty and staff are required to report any knowledge they may have of sexual misconduct. However, only a complainant or the Coordinator can actually sign an official complaint.
- The Coordinator must let you know if you're being investigated for a Title IX offense. You should get written notice explaining the charges, detailing the allegation, and identifying your accuser.
- Under Title IX, you have some important due process rights. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven responsible, the right to review all evidence against you, and the right to an advisor.
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to uncover the facts in the case. This person will separately interview both you and the complainant. They'll also talk to any witnesses and collect all physical evidence.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator writes a report summarizing their findings. Both sides have ten days to review this report and make suggestions for revision. Then, the report is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- If you're a college student, the Coordinator will set a time and date for an official hearing into your case. High schools sometimes offer hearings as well. However, under Title IX, they aren't obligated to do so.
- Typically, the Coordinator will assign a single decision-maker, a Hearing Officer, to preside over the case. Some schools, though, use a three-person or five-person panel.
- At the hearing, you'll have a chance to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You can also—through your advisor—ask questions of the complainant and cross-examine any witnesses against you. Of course, the complainant will have the same opportunity to make their case.
- In reaching their decision, decision-makers generally use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” This standard is much less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In simplest terms, decision-makers must find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- You have the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing, but only under certain very specific circumstances, such as the discovery of new evidence, the demonstration of bias on the part of a Title IX official, or the revelation of serious procedural mistakes. You should also note that the complainant has the right to appeal the case as well.
One of the most important reasons to hire a Title IX attorney is that they know the law. They can help keep you from making any mistakes. They also know how to protect your rights from over-zealous school administrators.
Choosing an Advisor
How do you go about finding a qualified advisor, though? If you've spent any time on the internet, you already know there are thousands of attorneys out there making all kinds of different promises. How do you choose the right person to take your case?
Title IX gives you the right to choose an attorney as your advisor. Not all attorneys are created equal, though. You wouldn't hire a defense attorney to handle your divorce. You wouldn't hire a divorce attorney to draft your will. If you're facing a sexual misconduct allegation, you need a Title IX attorney. Title IX is a federal law. It has a complicated history, and it's the subject of ongoing and heated political disputes. Only a Title IX attorney will know how to handle such a case.
Of course, you also want the best attorney you can find. That attorney may not necessarily be located in New Mexico. Because Title IX is a federal law, they don't need to be. What matters most is that you choose someone with the right qualifications. How do you know if an attorney is qualified? You ask the right questions:
- How many Title IX cases have they dealt with?
- What's their success rate with Title IX cases?
- What specific strategies would they use to handle your case?
The right attorney will have the right answers to these questions.
Joseph D. Lento, Title IX Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a fully qualified Title IX attorney. In fact, he built his practice dealing with student sexual misconduct cases. Over the course of his career, Joseph D. Lento has defended literally hundreds of students, just like you, from all types of sexual misconduct charges. He knows the law, and he knows how schools operate. He's an experienced negotiator who understands the lingo of school administrators. He's also a fighter who is committed to making sure you are treated fairly and that you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in New Mexico, don't try to handle things yourself. Contact the Lento Law Firm's New Mexico office to find out how we can help. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
New Mexico 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:
- Brown Mackie College Albuquerque
- Central New Mexico Community College
- Clovis Community College
- Computer Career Center
- Eastern New Mexico University Main Campus
- Eastern New Mexico University Roswell Campus
- Eastern New Mexico University Ruidoso Campus
- Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture
- ITT Technical Institute Albuquerque
- Luna Community College
- Mesalands Community College
- National American University Albuquerque
- National American University Rio Rancho
- Navajo Technical College
- New Mexico Highlands University
- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
- New Mexico Junior College
- New Mexico Military Institute
- New Mexico State University Alamogordo
- New Mexico State University Carlsbad
- New Mexico State University Dona Ana
- New Mexico State University Grants
- New Mexico State University Main Campus
- Northern New Mexico College
- San Juan College
- Santa Fe Community College
- Santa Fe University of Art and Design
- Southwest University of Visual Arts Albuquerque
- St John's College
- University of New Mexico Gallup Campus
- University of New Mexico Los Alamos Campus
- University of New Mexico Main Campus
- University of New Mexico Taos Campus
- University of New Mexico Valencia County Campus
- University of Phoenix Albuquerque Campus
- University of the Southwest
- Western New Mexico 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 New Mexico and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.