When a student is accused of sexual assault on a college campus, they are required to undergo the higher education institution's process for resolving a case. The single most important part of this process is the hearing. Within a hearing, respondents are given an opportunity to give their prospective account of the events that occurred and present the evidence that supports these claims. Based on the presentation of facts, evidence and witness accounts from both sides, school authorities will determine if a respondent is deemed guilty or not guilty for the claims brought against them. In the event that the accused loses a hearing, disciplinary actions will be taken, which ultimately result in a suspension or expulsion.
With so much at stake, it's important that respondents properly prepare for a hearing, but this is much easier said than done. When schools handle these cases, they cast extremely high expectations onto the accused. An attorney may be present during a hearing, but they aren't able to speak on your behalf. Therefore, respondents must coherently and effectively represent themselves to individuals who may already be under the impression that he or she is lying or guilty. But even though there will undoubtedly be an immense amount of pressure on respondents, it doesn't mean that they have to crack under it.
If you have been accused of sexual assault and have yet to attend your hearing, here are a few tips to consider before it ensues:
Sometime within the duration of a hearing, you will have to present a statement that details their account of the incident. It's important to remember that despite your relationship with your accuser, you should to some extent display empathy for them in these circumstances. Studies indicate that in most cases, accusers aren't blatantly lying, their perception of the incident may be skewed. Keep this in mind when practicing your statement.
Also, some accused students involved in these cases feel a sense of regret for what occurred between them and their accuser. It is possible to have these feelings and express them without saying that you are guilty of committing sexual assault. Admitting that you made mistakes, like drinking too much the night of the incident, for example, isn't an admission of guilt for the claims brought against you.
Discussion of Evidence
The types of evidence presented in these types of cases are usually electronic forms of communication, like text messages or social media postings. Unfortunately, it is not enough for respondents to hand over evidence supporting your account of what occurred and expect a school panel to thoroughly read them. Throughout a statement, there must be references to this evidence. You should make enough copies so that every member of a panel will be able to follow along during your presentation of this evidence.
Respondents must think long and hard about the manner in which they wish to consistently present themselves throughout a hearing. It is likely that an accuser will be emotional when they give their statement, and those who witness this may rush to their side to support them. This can be an extremely frustrating experience for the accused, especially when they know they did not commit this offense. The best thing you can do in these situations is to keep your composure. Expressions of anger can easily contribute to the narrative of you being an angry perpetrator who can't control your impulses. Stay calm, no matter how difficult it may be.
You will be asked difficult questions about what happened. In order to prepare for them, have acquaintances, family or anyone else that you can trust ask any difficult questions that they can conjure up about the incident. Make sure your tone and reactions to these questions are consistent with your demeanor you exhibit when you give your statement.
Ensure that the questions you ask your accuser highlight a part of their account of events that are beneficial to you. Try not to give them chances to say anything that would be considered to be damaging to your case.
Experienced Defense Attorney
If you are a college student who has been accused of sexual assault, you should immediately consult with a legal professional experienced in such high-stakes matters. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.