If you are accused of a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct, you need a strong defense. These allegations can have lasting consequences that might be hard to recover from. At the University of North Florida, students are encouraged to work with attorney-advisors at every step of the process. Attorney-advisors, like Lento Law Firm, will work tirelessly to gather evidence, question witnesses, and create a strategic defense that will guarantee you the best possible outcome for your case. Working with an attorney-advisor can mean the difference between getting a warning or being expelled. You have worked so hard to get into college you should not have to worry about your dreams slipping away. Call Lento Law Firm today.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that requires all federally funded colleges and universities to maintain certain standards when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence accusations on their campus. These requirements include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
The University of North Florida is committed to providing its community with an inclusive and welcoming environment free from gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of North Florida?
Once the University of North Florida receives a complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the complainant to gather more information. If the complainant would like the university to take further action, they may file a formal complaint. In some cases, the complainant may not want to pursue a formal complaint, but the Title IX Coordinator believes there is enough preliminary evidence to warrant it, and so they will file it on their own. This does not make them a party to the grievance process.
After the formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator will decide if the accused student should be removed from campus during the grievance process. If so, you have three days after receiving notice of the accusations and the emergency removal to challenge it. Within five days, the university will hold a hearing to decide whether an emergency removal is warranted.
Once this decision is made, the Title IX Coordinator will launch an investigation into the formal complaint. The investigator will meet with both the accused student and the complainant, gather and review documentary evidence, and speak to witnesses. The investigation is meant to be done quickly, usually within 90 days. Prior to filing their final report, the investigator will distribute a draft of the report to the complainant and accused student for review and comment. Your comments must be submitted within ten days of receiving the report. The investigator will include the comments in their final report, which they will deliver to both parties and the hearing decision-maker.
During the formal hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments, exhibit their evidence, and question witnesses. They will also have the chance to cross-examine the other party's evidence and witnesses. When both parties have been heard, the decision-maker will deliberate in private over the responsibility of the accused student. They will also decide what sanctions are appropriate. Possible sanctions might include:
- A reprimand
- Restorative service
- Reflective learning
- Educational programming
- Monitored events
- Counseling assessment and compliance
- Disciplinary probation
- Course-specific or program-specific probation
- No contact orders
- Restricted from participating in student clubs or activities
- Exclusion from university housing
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at the University of North Florida
Like most other universities in the United States, the University of North Florida allows either party to make a written request for appeal. Once the decision-maker's determination letter is received, the accused student or complainant have five days to file their appeal.
Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- There was a procedural error or lack of adequate due process that affected the outcome
- There is new evidence available now that was not reasonably available during the hearing or investigation that might affect the outcome of the matter
- The Title IX Coordinator, the investigator, or the hearing panel had a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or accused student that affected the outcome of the matter
- The sanctions are disproportionate to the violation committed
As both parties have an equal opportunity to appeal the decision-maker's determination, you may have to defend yourself further. Once the appeals and answers challenging the appeals are made, the decision-maker will review them. The decision-maker may decide to uphold the original decision, dismiss it, or modify it in some way. Whatever their decision, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Experienced Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being accused of a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct at the University of North Florida will have other consequences besides the sanctions imposed. For instance, if your university housing is revoked, you will have to find somewhere else to live, which can be hard in the middle of a semester. This is made even more difficult if you are unable to find transportation to and from school. Additionally, if you are found responsible for committing a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct and the Title IX Coordinator suspends or expels you, you will have to explain the incident on any future admissions application.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm are experienced attorney-advisors who will work diligently to mitigate any unnecessary consequences you might experience. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. You do not have to weather this storm alone. They can help.