School Investigations of Sexual Misconduct Differ From Criminal Prosecutions in Court

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 24, 2022 | 0 Comments

The term “burden of proof” refers to the responsibility of proving an incident did or did not occur. In the context of a sexual misconduct case being charged in criminal court, the state prosecutor has the burden of proving that the accused committed the crime in question. That is not the case at colleges and universities.

Criminal allegations must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in most criminal cases, but those administering justice don't always hold themselves to this standard. In a relatively high-profile sexual misconduct criminal case reported on by USA Today, a Houston detective recently demonstrated this failure. Although the U.S. Constitution requires those charged to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the detective admitted to believing the victims' claims of sexual assault against Cleveland Brown quarterback, Deshaun Watson - potentially from the outset of the investigation. If Mr. Watson is ultimately convicted, he may have grounds for appeal of the conviction based on potential prosecutorial bias.

If, on the other hand, Mr. Watson's case was playing out in a university setting, he probably wouldn't have this same recourse. When allegations of sexual misconduct are made in a college or university setting, the administrators don't have to adhere to the same burden of proof required by the U.S. Constitution in criminal cases.

The Difference Between School Disciplinary Proceedings and Criminal Courts

If you or someone you love is accused of sexual misconduct at your university, it's imperative you understand the difference between a criminal trial in the court system and a disciplinary proceeding conducted at your school. Colleges administer discipline through proceedings that more resemble administrative adjudications, and the burden of proof often isn't as strict as it would be in a criminal court. This means those accused shouldn't rely on an “innocent until proven guilty” rule.

Many mistakenly think the stakes are not as high when they get in trouble with their school versus when they get in trouble with state or federal prosecutors. While it's true your school won't impose jail time for student misconduct, they can expel you from classes or deny you your degree. At the end of the day, the implications of school discipline can be just as costly and long-lasting as criminal convictions.

In addition to the degree of proof required, schools are also more likely to put the burden of proving innocence on the student rather than putting the burden of proving guilt on the investigatory body. The best way to protect your interests at your college or university after a sexual misconduct claim is made against you is by retaining a legal professional to help you with your sexual misconduct defense.

Hire a Student Misconduct Defense Attorney-Advisor and Expert Defense Team

Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Student Defense Team helped numerous students throughout the country defend themselves against student misconduct accusations, including sexual misconduct. To learn how Attorney Lento and his team can help you get your collegiate career back on track, call 888-535-3686, or contact us online today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.