Student Misconduct Charges in the University of California System

Advantages of a Statewide System

If you are a student at a University of California System campus, you probably know that your campus is part of a much larger statewide university system. Students at statewide systems like the UC System have some advantages over students who attend a single-campus university. Multiple campuses can increase your overall library, research, grant, institute, and other educational resources. You may also benefit from a vast alumni network. The reputation of your university may be higher among prospective employers who will recognize the quality of your education from their experience with other skilled and knowledgeable graduates. And you are likely to have more options in where to pursue your education and what education to pursue.

Disadvantages of a Statewide System

On the other hand, statewide systems like the UC system can have certain disadvantages. A statewide university system adds layers of bureaucracy and regulation. You may find yourself responding to your program or school officials and campus officials, and system officials. The system may require one thing, while the campus and individual program or school may require other things. You may also feel like you are more of a number than a person to a statewide system so vast as to have hundreds of thousands of students. And unfortunately, these disadvantages can quickly compound when you face misconduct charges. You may find yourself feeling like no one knows you, no one cares about you, and your fate is in the hands of faceless and distant bureaucrats. Don't let your attendance at a UC System campus adversely affect your educational rights and opportunities. If you face UC System misconduct charges, retain the academic misconduct expert attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm. You will then have joined hundreds of other students who trusted attorney Lento for an aggressive and effective defense.

The University of California System

The University of California System has ten campuses across the state. Most UC campuses have large enrollment and offer both undergraduate and graduate programs. Contrast the UC System with the California State System, which has more than twice the number of UC campuses. Though the California State System also has nearly twice the UC System's enrollment, CSU campuses are generally smaller in enrollment and offer only undergraduate programs. Only UC campuses offer doctoral programs. That differentiation between the UC and CSU systems results from California's landmark Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960, laying out a master plan for California higher education. California once had a California Postsecondary Education Commission coordinating higher education policies for the UC and CSU systems and private colleges and universities in California, but the Commission lost its funding, leaving California higher education without a public coordinating body.

The UC System's 280,000 students study at Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz. The UC System offers 800-degree programs across 160 academic disciplines. With its high reputation, abundant programs, and massive alumni network, the UC System can provide outstanding educational value and experiences. Yet, the UC System also has a reputation to protect. The UC System has student codes of conduct that UC campuses are generally well equipped and eager to enforce. And sometimes, enforcement action occurs against students who are innocent of any misconduct or of the misconduct that the school charges. If you face misconduct charges at any UC System campus, then know that national college and university misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are ready for your aggressive and effective defense.

University of California System Governance

A 26-member Board of Regents governs the University of California System's ten campuses. The UC Board of Regents adopts broad policies that apply to all UC campuses. UC Board of Regents policies address not only UC business and financial affairs but also academic issues, student life issues, and legal responsibilities. UC Board of Regents policies include broad statements addressing diversity, non-discrimination, and tolerance. The UC Board of Regents also adopts detailed policies governing student conduct across all ten UC campuses. If you face misconduct charges at a UC System campus, then the likelihood is great that your campus has brought those charges under a UC Board of Regents system-wide policy.

A single UC System president carries out UC Board of Regents policies across all ten UC campuses. The Office of the President, located in Oakland, is the UC System headquarters. A single chancellor for each UC campus carries out the president's responsibilities, including to enforce the UC Board of Regents student discipline policies. Section 104.20 of the UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline states, “Each Chancellor may appoint faculty, student, or other advisory committees, or hearing officers, as specified in campus regulations, but the final authority for administration of student discipline rests with the Chancellor.” If you face misconduct charges on your UC campus, you will deal with campus officials whom your campus's chancellor has designated to apply the system-wide UC student conduct policies. Your campus chancellor will have oversight over the enforcement of UC student conduct policies on your campus.

The UC System also has a faculty Senate that the UC Board of Regents authorizes to determine academic policies. While not formally adopting student misconduct policies, the faculty Senate influences and advises on those policies. Your UC professors generally know what constitutes academic misconduct under UC System policies or may believe that they know or should determine what constitutes academic misconduct. Be careful to comply with professor instructions and to avoid disputes over acceptable academic conduct. Your professor may well be right about what constitutes academic misconduct at your UC campus.

University of California Student Conduct Governance

UC Board of Regents Policy 100.00 on Student Conduct and Discipline is the primary policy under which UC campuses charge students with general forms of misconduct. The UC System also maintains a separate Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment under which UC campuses charge students with sexual misconduct. While the UC Board of Regents defines student misconduct, it permits each campus to adopt implementing regulations. Policy 100.00 states that “these Policies and the campus regulations implementing them apply to all campuses and properties of the University and to functions administered by the University, unless in special circumstances the President directs otherwise.”

You can read Policy 100.00 for basic definitions of UC student misconduct and the Policy on Sexual Violence for basic definitions of UC student sexual misconduct. But if your UC campus charges you with misconduct, you will likely also need to know your campus's implementing regulations. Researching and applying definitions and regulations are for skilled attorneys, not for novices. If your UC campus charges you with misconduct, then retain an expert academic attorney. Don't rely on a local lawyer in general practice or even a criminal defense lawyer or civil litigator for your student misconduct defense in the UC System. Instead, retain national college and university student misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Lento has defended hundreds of students nationwide against misconduct charges.

UC Misconduct Charges for Off-Campus Conduct

Section 104.31 of the UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline extends UC misconduct policies beyond the campus to university functions. You may face misconduct charges for off-campus activities relating to university functions. Section 104.31 states, “If an alleged violation of University policies occurs in connection with an official University-wide function not on a campus, the student accused of the violation shall be subject to the disciplinary procedures of the campus at which the individual is a student....” Just because your UC education takes you off-campus doesn't mean the rules change. You must still comply with the UC conduct code.

UC Berkeley's Code of Conduct, an example of the common UC campus codes, expressly extends its prohibitions to off-campus conduct affecting university functions. The Code's Part IV.B states, “Student conduct that occurs off University property is subject to the Code where it a) adversely affects the health, safety, or security of any other member of the University community, or the mission of the University, or b) involves academic work or any records or documents of the University.” Don't assume that your off-campus conduct is immune from UC's investigation. If you face misconduct charges for off-campus activities, retain national college and university defense attorney, Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of students defend and defeat misconduct charges, many involving allegations of off-campus misconduct.

UC Student Code Relationship to Other Laws

Section 104.10 of the UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline clarifies that your UC campus will determine whether you committed misconduct based on its own policies rather than on civil or criminal laws. Police may have declined to investigate, prosecutors may have declined to file a criminal charge, or the court may have dismissed criminal charges or a civil lawsuit for liability. Yet, your UC campus may still bring misconduct charges. Section 104.10 states, “Chancellors may impose discipline for violations of University policies or campus regulations whether or not such violations are also violations of law, and whether or not proceedings are or have been pending in the courts involving the same acts.” If your UC campus indicates that it suspects you of criminal misconduct, then promptly retain national college and university misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm.

University of California Student Code of Conduct

The UC System's primary system-wide Policy 100.00 on Student Conduct and Discipline prohibits a very long list of student misconduct. The forms of misconduct that the UC System prohibits fall into three general categories: (1) violating academic and institutional norms; (2) committing behavioral misconduct that society generally condemns; and (3) causing damage to or loss of property. You can, in other words, face misconduct charges over a specific school issue, like cheating or disrupting class, or something broader that any organization or community would condemn, like personal violence. Below are the three categories and specific forms of misconduct that the UC System's Policy 100.00 on Student Conduct and Discipline condemns:

ACADEMIC AND INSTITUTIONAL MISCONDUCT

  • academic misconduct, including cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, or facilitating academic dishonesty
  • other dishonesty, including fabricating information, furnishing false information, or reporting a false university emergency
  • hazing or any method of initiation into a campus organization “that causes, or is likely to cause physical injury or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in psychological harm to any student or other person
  • obstruction or disruption of teaching, research, administration, disciplinary procedures, or other University activities”
  • forgery, alteration, or misuse of a university document, record, key, electronic device, or identification
  • “unauthorized entry, use, transfer, or tampering with the communications of others”
  • interference with the work of others, including with the operation of computer and electronic communications facilities, systems, and services
  • copyright infringement
  • failing to identify oneself to or comply with directions of a university official or other public official acting performing duties on university property or at university functions
  • resisting or obstructing university or other public officials performing or attempting to perform their duties
  • violation of conditions of disciplinary action imposed under these policies or campus regulations
  • selling, preparing, or distributing for commercial purpose course lecture notes or video or audio recordings of any course unless authorized in advance by the course instructor in writing
  • copying for commercial purpose handouts, readers, or other course materials provided by a university instructor as part of a course unless authorized in advance by the course instructor in writing

BEHAVIORAL MISCONDUCT

  • “physical abuse, including but not limited to physical assault, threats of violence, or other conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person”
  • harassment so severe or pervasive, and objectively offensive, as to substantially impairs a person's access to university programs or activities, based on race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, ancestry, service in the uniformed services, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or perceived membership in any of these classifications
  • stalking, engaging in a course of conduct directed at another person making a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for safety, serving no legitimate purpose
  • disorderly or lewd conduct
  • disturbing the peace or unlawful assembly
  • unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, use, or sale of controlled substances identified in federal and state law or regulations
  • manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, use, or sale of alcohol that is unlawful or otherwise prohibited by university policy or campus regulations
  • “possession, use, storage, or manufacture of explosives, firebombs, or other destructive devices
  • possession, use, or manufacture of a firearm or other weapon as prohibited by campus regulations”
  • terrorizing university students, faculty, or staff, meaning to cause a reasonable fear of bodily harm or death
  • invasion of privacy where the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that victim's knowledge and express consent
  • voyeurism, viewing the interior of a private location without the subject's knowledge and express consent
  • surveillance, making a video or audio recording or streaming of private conversations or meetings without the knowledge and express consent of all recorded parties

PROPERTY LOSS OR DAMAGE

  • theft or conversion of property
  • possession of stolen property when the student knew or reasonably should have known it was stolen
  • destruction or damage involving university property or property of others while on university premises
  • theft or abuse of university computers or other electronic equipment, communications facilities, systems, or services
  • unauthorized entry, possession, receipt, or use of any university services, equipment, resources, or properties, including the university's name, insignia, or seal
  • violation of policies, regulations, or rules governing university housing facilities

The Risk of University of California Misconduct Charges

You can see that the above categories, forms, and definitions are so broad that almost any interference with university operations or another student's rights, privileges, or interests could result in UC misconduct charges. Private disputes between students or between students and faculty or staff members can quickly devolve into misconduct allegations and charges. The risk of misconduct charges is real, even for behaviors that are not in themselves criminal or violations of other laws. UC campuses are highly regulated environments, much more so than public places and many private places. UC campus officials may not accept what passes for acceptable conduct in your community, home, or workplace. If you face University of California System misconduct charges, don't risk your future on your own defense skills. Instead, promptly retain national college and university misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm.

University of California Sexual Misconduct Policies

Some of the above general misconduct policies, like the prohibitions against physical assault, harassment, and stalking, could also apply to sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, or sexual stalking. If your UC campus accuses you of sexual misconduct, then you may face general misconduct charges under the above UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline, even though the UC System maintains a separate Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Violating the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment also expressly violates the UC Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline, which incorporates the sexual-misconduct policy. Your UC campus will charge sexual misconduct under its Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, applying specifically to sexual misconduct. Still, you may also face general misconduct charges under the above Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline.

Title IX and Non-Title IX Misconduct

Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in colleges and universities receiving federal funding. Like other colleges and universities receiving federal funds, the UC System maintains a separate Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, applying specifically to Title IX sexual misconduct. The UC System thus follows the federal Title IX laws and regulations. Yet like many other colleges and universities, UC's Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment also prohibits other forms of sexual misconduct that Title IX does not reach. The UC System has chosen to prohibit more sexual conduct than federal law requires it to prohibit. The UC System prohibits both Title IX sexual misconduct and non-Title IX sexual misconduct. The complexities of these prohibitions and their different procedures make sexual misconduct allegations a minefield for the accused student. If you face sexual misconduct charges at your UC campus, then be sure to retain national college and university Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm.

University of California Title IX Misconduct

Title IX law and regulation change frequently. According to current federal law and regulation, Title IX policies must prohibit sex discrimination in the specific forms of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and retaliation, for a college or university to receive federal funding. The UC System's Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment prohibits each of those Title IX forms of sexual misconduct. The UC policy states elaborate definitions for each form of Title IX misconduct, including:

  • sexual assault in either penetration or contact forms, the contact form involving touching intimate body parts without consent
  • relationship violence, including physical violence or non-physical conduct, placing a person in reasonable fear of violence
  • stalking involving the following, monitoring, observing, surveilling, threatening, communicating, or interfering with property, with a sexual, romantic, or sex-based nature or motivation
  • sexual harassment in either its quid pro quo form conditioning participation in university programs on unwelcome sexual conduct or its hostile environment form involving unwelcome sexual conduct sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive as to unreasonably interfere with a person's participation in university programs or activities
  • retaliation for reporting suspected Title IX misconduct or participating in Title IX misconduct proceedings

If your campus suspects you of committing any of these acts, then you may face Title IX disciplinary charges. Colleges and universities take especially seriously their Title IX obligations. Yet Title IX charges also offer you special protective procedures that an expert academic attorney can use to defend you aggressively and effectively. If you face Title IX charges within the UC System, promptly retain national college and university Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to put those protective measures to best effect.

Sexual Harassment Charges at the University of California

We all know not to commit the crimes of sexual assault, stalking, or dating or domestic violence. When Title IX policies prohibit these crimes, they are not imposing any new or additional requirements. Title IX's sexual harassment prohibition, though, is different. Some students simply may not know that sexual advances or requests, and even sexual remarks, jokes, and innuendo can violate Title IX prohibitions against sexual harassment. Federal law gives broad definitions to sexual harassment, definitions that UC's Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment necessarily adopts. Do you want to know how broad? Under federal law, colleges and universities look at the total circumstances to determine what is or is not sufficiently harassing. The UC policy draws no magic line. Anything you say or do, or don't say or do, can become evidence of sexual misconduct. Don't let vague sexual misconduct definitions and overzealous campus officials bent on enforcement ruin your UC education. If you face UC sexual harassment charges, retain national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm, who has helped hundreds of students defend misconduct charges.

University of California Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct

The hazards of sexual misconduct charges at your UC campus are more significant than simply facing vague federal Title IX definitions. The UC System's Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment goes beyond Title IX forms of sexual misconduct. The Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment also prohibits these other forms of sexual misconduct that would not ordinarily violate Title IX:

  • invasion of sexual privacy, defined as watching or enabling others to watch another's nudity or sexual acts in a place where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person's consent
  • recording or attempting to record nudity or sexual acts in a place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without that person's consent
  • sexual blackmail, using depictions of nudity or sexual activity to extort something of value from a person
  • underage sex, defined as sexual intercourse with a person under age eighteen
  • “exposing one's genitals in a public place for the purpose of sexual gratification
  • failing to comply with the terms of a no-contact order, a suspension of any length, or any order of exclusion” issued under the policy

Invasions of privacy can be especially questionable and problematic in the close environs of campus housing. And for these non-Title IX forms of sexual misconduct, your UC campus need not offer an accused student the special protective measures that Title IX requires. If you face a charge involving one of the above forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct without Title IX's protective procedures, you will need all of the expert help you can get. Promptly retain national college and university sexual misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm.

University of California Campus Conduct Codes

While the UC Board of Regents adopts both the system-wide Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline and Policy on Sexual Violence, the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline states expressly that campus chancellors “may impose discipline for the commission or attempted commission (including aiding or abetting in the commission or attempted commission) of the following types of violations by students, as well as such other violations as may be specified in campus regulations….” Your UC campus may have adopted additional student conduct codes under which your campus may charge you with misconduct.

The UC Berkeley Code of Conduct is a prime example. Part V, “Grounds for Discipline” of UC Berkeley's Code of Conduct, repeats the same prohibitions found in UC's system-wide Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline. If you face UC campus misconduct proceedings, expect charges under both the system-wide UC policy and your campus code.

University of California Graduate Conduct Codes

UC campuses are not the only UC entities imposing additional conduct codes. UC graduate and professional schools may also impose additional student conduct requirements. The UCLA Health Center Code of Conduct & Statement of Ethics is a prime example. Medical professionals have different and additional obligations than workers in other fields and disciplines. The UCLA Health Center code of conduct organizes those additional obligations under fourteen standards for such things as:

  • the quality of patient care
  • the medical necessity of procedures
  • proper coding, billing, and accounting
  • accurate cost reporting
  • preserving private and confidential patient information
  • creating and retaining patient records
  • complying with government requests for records
  • preventing improper kickbacks and referrals
  • complying with antitrust laws
  • avoiding conflicts of interest
  • supporting patient freedom of choice
  • maintaining rigor in clinical research

Other professional schools such as law, dentistry, and accounting will have different professional norms and rules. And individual programs, clinics, and campuses may have other particular concerns that they address through extra student conduct codes. If you or someone you know faces misconduct charges under a UC campus code or a unique professionalism code for your graduate school, then retain national academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm to defend and defeat those charges.

Consequences of University of California Misconduct

Section 105 of the UC System's Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline states that your campus may impose sanctions if your campus finds you responsible for misconduct. Those sanctions include, in progressively severe order, any of the following:

  • warning
  • censure
  • transcript and degree holds
  • disciplinary probation
  • loss of privileges
  • exclusion from activities, areas, or functions
  • fines and restitution
  • community service
  • interim suspension
  • suspension
  • dismissal
  • degree revocation

The UC policy also provides for enhanced sanctions when the misconduct involves an individual's race, color, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, marital status, ancestry, service in the uniformed services, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or perceived membership in any of these classifications. UC System sanctions for misconduct can be severe. Do not ignore or treat any UC misconduct charge lightly. And do not let false, unfair, or exaggerated misconduct charges interrupt or end your education and impact your future job and career. Retain national college and university defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm for an aggressive and effective defense of UC System misconduct charges.

University of California Misconduct Procedures

The UC System's Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline does not state detailed procedures for determining whether an accused student committed misconduct. Instead, the system-wide Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline defers to each UC campus to determine those procedures, except in Title IX cases where the UC System's Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment determines the procedures. (See the next section for sexual misconduct procedures.)

The student misconduct procedures at the University of California at Los Angeles are typical of UC campuses. The UCLA misconduct procedures begin with complaints to the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students or designee determines whether the evidence supports the complaint's allegations of misconduct. If so, the Dean or designee asks the accused student to admit the allegations, and the Dean imposes sanctions. A student admitting culpability may appeal a suspension or dismissal sanction to the campus' Vice-Chancellor. If the accused student instead denies the charges, a Student Conduct Committee hears and decides the matter for the Vice-Chancellor to impose the sanction. The Vice Chancellor's decision is final.

The UC Berkeley campus and other UC campuses have similar procedures. At UC Berkeley, the Code of Conduct authorizes a Center for Student Conduct to accept complaints. The Center investigates, providing the accused student with written notice of any charges. The accused student must respond timely within seven days or suffer default sanctions. An Advisory Review Committee helps the Center decide whether to pursue charges and, if so, then what sanctions to seek. If the matter does not resolve informally with the accused student's admission, it proceeds to a formal hearing. An Independent Hearing Officer decides disputed procedural matters, while a Hearing Panel decides disputed evidence and charges. At UC Berkeley, the Hearing Panel recommends a decision on the charges and a sanction for misconduct to the campus Dean of Students for final decision. A student found to have engaged in misconduct may appeal to the campus Vice-Chancellor.

University of California Campus Misconduct Hearings

Your UC campus may define the details of the misconduct hearing. Administrative hearings tend to be much less formal than a court trial. They generally do not follow evidence rules. Except in Title IX cases, they rarely permit attorney cross-examination of adverse witnesses. The UC Berkeley Code of Conduct, for example, allows only the student to ask questions in person or writing. But even in the academic, administrative setting of a UC campus misconduct hearing, you will still have helpful rights. UC Berkeley's Code of Conduct procedures are a good example, providing each of these rights:

  • the right to retain an academic attorney of your choosing
  • the right to written notice of the charges against you
  • the right to adequate notice of the time and place of hearing
  • the right to be present and to participate at the hearing
  • the right to present information contesting the charges
  • the right to unbiased hearing officers
  • the right to receive, review, and appeal the written decision

You may not think that you need an expert academic attorney for a UC campus misconduct hearing. Don't make the mistake of proceeding without aggressive attorney representation. Your education, job, and career after graduation may all depend on effective representation. Don't simply hire a local attorney lacking experience in academic, administrative proceedings. When you retain national college and university misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, you get the defense of an expert academic attorney who has successfully represented hundreds of college and university students.

University of California Sexual Misconduct Procedures

The UC System's Title IX sexual misconduct procedures are in Appendix F of the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Those Title IX procedures guarantee the accused student the right to retain an attorney to cross-examine witnesses at the formal hearing. Under the Title IX procedures, your UC campus hearing panel may only consider the testimony of witnesses who appear live at the hearing and are subject to that cross-examination. The UC System also has specific procedures for determining non-Title IX sexual misconduct charges, found in Appendix E of the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Those non-Title IX procedures dispense with the right of attorney cross-examination and that witnesses must appear live for the hearing officer to consider their testimony. Non-Title IX procedures at your UC campus will not provide you with the protections of Title IX procedures.

Retain Expert Attorney Assistance

If you or someone you know faces student misconduct charges in the University of California System, at any of its ten campuses, national academic defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are ready to provide an aggressive and effective defense. The worst thing to do is to ignore or minimize misconduct charges when your education and career may depend on the prompt and aggressive defense of those charges. Too many students give in to false, unfair, or exaggerated charges, expecting leniency in the sanctions or mistakenly believing that sanctions won't hurt that much. Suspension, not leniency, is the typical default sanction. And sanctions of virtually any kind can ruin an education and career. Don't admit to charges for which you are not responsible and don't accept unreasonable sanctions. Your education and career are worth too much to you and expert help will be your best defense. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a Lento Law Firm consultation or use the online service.

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