What do you do if your Rhode Island school has charged you with a Title IX offense? First and foremost, you contact a Title IX attorney.
A Title IX accusation is serious business, and you can't handle it on your own. Current federal guidelines for how schools should investigate and adjudicate Title IX cases runs to 554 pages. And everything is at stake. If your school should find you responsible, the minimum penalty you're likely to face is suspension. Expulsion is more common. Good jobs can be hard to come by for students who have been expelled.
Luckily, Title IX gives you the right to choose an advisor to help you with your case, and that advisor can be an attorney. Not just any attorney will do, though. You need someone who knows the law, someone with experience taking on school faculty and administrators, and someone with a proven track record of protecting student rights. You need someone like Joseph D. Lento.
What Are the Title IX Rules?
Why do you need a Title IX attorney as your advisor? Because the rules and procedures in these cases are complicated and difficult to navigate. Here's just a rough outline of what those 554 pages of rules say.
- Your school must have a Title IX Coordinator. This individual makes all decisions about whether or not to pursue sexual misconduct allegations.
- If you're being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with notice of the charges against you. This document should name your accuser and provide details about the allegation.
- You have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You have the right to review any evidence against you. You have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney.
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to the case. The Investigator meets separately with you and the complainant. They also interview any witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator writes a summary of their findings. Both you and the complainant have the right to review this document and to suggest revisions if you feel it is inaccurate.
- All college students have the right to defend themselves at a live hearing. Some high schools hold hearings as well. However, Title IX does not require them to do so.
- At the hearing, you'll be allowed to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You'll also be allowed to cross-examine the complainant and any other witnesses against you.
- Your case may be heard by one decision-maker or by a panel of three to five decision-makers. These are also appointed by the Title IX Coordinator.
- Once both sides have presented their cases, decision-makers deliberate to determine whether or not you are responsible for a Title IX offense. In doing so, they use what's known as the “preponderance of evidence” standard. This legal standard requires decision-makers to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed a violation.
- Title IX gives you a limited right to appeal the hearing decision. You will have only five to ten days to file this appeal, though, and you may only file an appeal under certain circumstances, such as the discovery of new evidence or mistakes in the Title IX procedures.
As if 554 pages of rules weren't daunting enough, you can't even be sure these rules won't suddenly change. The law has been politically controversial since it was first passed in 1972, and even the definition of what qualifies as an offense is subject to change depending on who happens to be in office. Only a Title IX attorney can guide you through the process and make sure you don't make any missteps.
Choosing an Advisor
You don't have to choose an attorney as your advisor. If you do decide to use an attorney, you don't have to choose a Title IX attorney. A Title IX attorney, though, is going to give you the very best chance of successfully defending yourself. Here's why:
- Title IX is a federal law with many complex rules. It provides important due process protections, but only someone who has studied the law will know how to use these to your advantage.
- You won't be tried in a court of law. Your case will play out on campus before faculty, students, and administrators. Your advisor, then, shouldn't just be well-versed in the law but experienced at dealing with campus justice. The average attorney just won't have this experience.
- Title IX cases involve unique concepts like “consent” and “preponderance of evidence.” Title IX attorneys understand the issues that surround these concepts and have the know-how to craft a defense strategy that takes them into account.
As you make your choices, keep in mind: your attorney doesn't need to be from Rhode Island. Title IX is a federal law, so any qualified attorney can handle your case. What you're looking for isn't the closest attorney. What you're looking for is the most qualified attorney.
You can find out pretty quickly just how qualified an attorney is to handle your case by asking three simple questions:
- How many Title IX cases have they dealt with?
- What is their success rate with Title IX cases?
- What specific strategies would they use to handle your case?
Joseph D. Lento, Title IX Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who has devoted his career to defending students just like you from Title IX accusations. He knows the law, its history, and its politics. He's helped craft hundreds of defense strategies in response to every kind of accusation, from simple verbal harassment to stalking, dating violence, and rape.
Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He's seen schools bend the rules unfairly to protect accusers. He knows that in today's political climate, high schools and colleges tend to penalize students with draconian sanctions that are totally disproportionate to the offenses. Joseph D. Lento will fight to make sure this doesn't happen to you. He understands how campus justice works, and he has experience protecting his clients' rights.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Rhode Island, we can help. Contact the Lento Law Firm's Rhode Island office to find out how. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
Rhode Island 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 University
- Bryant University
- Community College of Rhode Island
- Johnson & Wales University – Providence
- Naval War College (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- New England Institute of Technology
- Providence College
- Rhode Island College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Roger Williams University
- Salve Regina University
- University of Rhode Island
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 futures 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 Rhode Island and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.