If you have been charged with a Title IX offense, you need to know: you can't handle this situation alone. Sexual misconduct is among the most serious accusation a student can face. In today's political climate, high schools and colleges can't risk looking soft on offenders. That means the minimum punishment you'll probably face if you're found responsible is suspension. Far more likely, your school will expel you.
The good news is, you don't have to deal with this situation alone. Title IX gives respondents (the accused) several important due process rights. Among these, you have the right to select an advisor, someone to help you prepare your defense. In addition, the law says that advisor can be an attorney. Not just any attorney will do, though. You need someone who knows the law, someone experienced in dealing with campus judicial procedures. You need Joseph D. Lento.
Title IX Procedures
Why do you need a Title IX attorney to serve as your advisor? In simplest terms: Title IX is a federal law involving complex rules and complicated procedures. Only a Title IX attorney has the knowledge and skills to guide you through a Title IX investigation.
Here's just a sampling of what Title IX has to say:
- Your school must have a Title IX Coordinator. This person reviews all accusations and decides which accusations warrant an investigation.
- If the Coordinator does decide to open a case against you, they must provide you with notice of the charges. This notice will include details about the allegation as well as the name of the complainant (accuser). This is important information since it can help you begin building your defense.
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to pursue the case. The Investigator collects any physical evidence such as clothing, video, and texts. They also interview any relevant witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator completes a written report summarizing their findings. Both sides have the right to review this document and suggest any revisions.
- All college students are entitled to a live hearing. The Title IX Coordinator will set the time and date for this hearing and appoint one or more decision-makers to oversee the proceedings. Some high schools also hold hearings into Title IX accusations. However, Title IX does not require them to do so.
- According to Title IX, all hearings must be held live. However, either side can request special accommodations such as the use of closed-circuit video or privacy screens.
- At the hearing, you can present evidence and witness testimony in your own defense. You can also cross-examine the complainant and any other witnesses against you. Only your advisor may actually ask the question, though. The complainant will have an opportunity to make their case as well.
- Decision-makers decide whether or not you are “responsible” (guilty) using a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” This is less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Basically, decision-makers are obligated to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed a violation.
- Both sides have the right to appeal the hearing decision. However, your school will have a time limit on filing such an appeal. In addition, you may only file appeals for certain very specific reasons like the discovery of new evidence, an allegation of bias against a Title IX official, or proof of procedural mistakes.
The government's actual Title IX guidelines are over 500 pages long. Worse, they're constantly changing. Title IX is a politically sensitive law, and the rules are subject to revision every time a new political party takes control of the White House. To have any chance of successfully navigating the system, you need someone whose entire career has been devoted to studying the law.
Choosing an Advisor
By this point, you know you need an attorney to handle your case. You may be tempted to hire a family or local attorney, someone in your neighborhood, someone who knows you. In fact, a local attorney may even tell you they're the best person to defend you because they know the prosecutors and judges in your community.
Here's the problem with that logic:
- Title IX is a federal law. Local attorneys are experts at state and local laws, but they aren't typically well-versed in federal laws.
- Title IX isn't just any federal law. It has a unique history, and it's the subject of frequent political debate. A local attorney won't be up to date on recent changes to the law.
- Your case won't be tried in a court of law. It will take place entirely on campus. You won't face prosecutors and judges. You'll be dealing with faculty, administrators, and other students. No matter how well a local attorney may know your state and local judicial system, they won't have the experience to take on-campus justice.
Of course, the biggest reason students hire local attorneys is because they're local. Keep in mind, though: your advisor doesn't need to be from South Dakota. Anyone can handle your case. Your goal should be to hire the most qualified attorney, not the one that's closest to where you live.
So how do you find out whether or not an attorney is qualified to deal with your Title IX case? You can start by looking for attorneys who advertise themselves specifically as Title IX attorneys. Then, ask them three important 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?
The right attorney is the one with the right answers to these questions.
Joseph D. Lento Can Help With Your Title IX Case
Joseph D. Lento is a fully licensed, fully qualified defense attorney. He's skilled at representing clients and crafting defense strategies. Joseph D. Lento isn't just a defense attorney, though. He specializes in Title IX cases. He's protected hundreds of students just like you from all kinds of sexual misconduct charges. Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He knows how schools operate. Most importantly, no one is more committed than Joseph D. Lento to getting you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in South Dakota, don't try to handle it yourself. Contact the Lento Law Firm's South Dakota office to find out how we can help. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
South Dakota 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:
- Augustana College
- Black Hills State University
- Colorado Technical University Sioux Falls
- Dakota State University
- Dakota Wesleyan University
- Globe University Sioux Falls
- Kilian Community College
- Lake Area Technical Institute
- Mitchell Technical Institute
- Mount Marty College
- National American University Ellsworth AFB Extension
- National American University Rapid City
- National American University Sioux Falls
- Northern State University
- Oglala Lakota College
- Presentation College
- Sinte Gleska University
- Sisseton Wahpeton College
- South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
- South Dakota State University
- Southeast Technical Institute
- University of Sioux Falls
- University of South Dakota
- Western Dakota Technical Institute
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 South Dakota and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.