If you've been accused of sexual misconduct at Cal State, Fresno, you're probably experiencing a lot of different emotions right now. You're likely angry and frustrated. You may be hurt that someone you know, someone you may even have loved, has accused you of such a serious crime. You're confused about what's happening to you.
What you need are answers. What will an investigation look like? What kind of punishment are you facing? What is Title IX, and what does it have to do with your case?
The guide below offers a starting point for building your defense. It answers the important questions, the ones you're most worried about now. It can help you get a handle on the situation. Make no mistake, though: sexual misconduct is a serious charge. Your school doesn't have to follow the same rules as a court of law. In fact, they will do everything they can to convict you and expel you, and that includes ignoring many of the most important principles of American justice. You can't handle this alone. You need a Title IX attorney by your side.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct at Cal State, Fresno, you'll very likely be tried under Title IX guidelines and procedures. Passed in 1972, that law prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment in all publicly funded educational programs. Like every other school in the country, Cal State, Fresno must investigate and prosecute you or risk losing their federal monies.
Unfortunately, Title IX doesn't guarantee you the rights you might have seen invoked on episodes of Law and Order. For one thing, the school has a built-in financial incentive to come after you, no matter how insubstantial the allegations might seem. In addition, they don't have to find you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and it doesn't take a unanimous jury verdict to convict you. In fact, you can be found guilty by a single person—not a judge with years of experience on the bench, but someone whose day job might be a Spanish professor.
To complicate matters, Title IX is far from settled law. It continues to be revised and re-written by the courts and by each successive presidential administration. The Obama administration, for instance, demanded schools treat sex-based comments and even jokes as Title IX offenses. The Trump administration pushed back against these decisions, giving the accused the right to a hearing and cross-examine witnesses. The Biden administration, of course, wants to undo those guidelines.
As a result of all this legal and political wrangling, it's difficult to tell for sure just how a school will implement Title IX. The system is in chaos, and that means now more than ever, you need someone who can help make sense of it for you.
Investigations and Hearings
Most sexual misconduct cases at Cal State, Fresno still fall under Title IX. Complaints originate with the school's Title IX Coordinator. This person then appoints an investigator to look into the case. That person will interview you and the complainant as well as any witnesses to the incident. In addition, they'll collect any physical evidence: clothing, dorm logs, video, anything that can help prove what might have happened.
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator forwards a report to the Title IX Coordinator, who then sets a hearing date. Title IX rules say you are entitled to an advisor and that this advisor may be an attorney. At the hearing, the advisor will cross-examine any witnesses and generally help you present your defense. However, you must make any opening or closing statements yourself.
A single Hearing Officer presides over the hearing and ultimately decides whether you are responsible (guilty) or not. You are entitled to appeal this decision to the university president, but only if you can demonstrate clear occurred during the Title IX process, or you have new, exonerating evidence to present.
Cal State, Fresno lists a number of possible sanctions for sexual misconduct, but in general, the minimum penalty you'll face is suspension. It is far more likely that you will be expelled if you're found guilty.
Under the Cal State system’s official policy on sexual misconduct, allegations that could result in suspension or expulsion are treated using Title IX procedures. However, you should be aware that if your case is less serious or is not covered under Title IX, it will be decided by the investigator at the conclusion of the investigation. You are not entitled to a hearing, though you may appeal the investigator's decision to the Chancellor for review.
The topic of potential sanctions, including suspension and expulsion, takes us back to the beginning. There are arguable pros and cons to the following reality, but it must be recognized that most sexual misconduct cases at Cal State, Fresno will be decided using Title IX policies because most respondents will face the potential of suspension or expulsion.
Cal State, Fresno, as with almost all schools throughout the United States use suspension as the baseline sanction. If the conduct for which an accused student is found responsible is more severe and/or if there are aggravating factors, expulsion will be the assured outcome. If accused of sexual misconduct allegations, do not be deluded about the potential outcome - warnings are almost never imposed, and probation is a relatively rare sanction.
When to Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, your entire future is at stake. If you are expelled, your academic career is essentially over. You'll be barred from applying to other Cal State schools, and your transcript will include a notation about your crime that will keep you from enrolling anywhere else. Even suspension from Cal State, Fresno can literally cause a lifetime of negative consequences.
If, by the off chance, a respondent receives probation after being found responsible, they will nonetheless have to disclose that they have been found responsible for sexual misconduct and they will have the disciplinary records to indicate the same. Doors to internships, graduate school, and professional employment can be effectively closed.
Given just how serious these consequences are, you would think Title IX would afford students all the protections any defendant might get during a real investigation and trial. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The government grants schools wide latitude, and schools use every inch of it. They face pressure from the government, to say nothing of pressure from the Me Too movement, to find responsible anyone who's accused.
You need someone on your side. Someone to protect your interests. You need attorney Joseph D. Lento. Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX attorney with years of experience defending students against sexual misconduct charges. He's defended hundreds of students just like you at schools all over the country. Joseph D. Lento understands Title IX law. He knows the law's history. He keeps a constant eye on its changes. At the same time, he understands how schools operate. He's just as comfortable in a hearing room making arguments before a Hearing Officer as he is in a federal courtroom facing a judge. Most importantly, though, he understands you. He is empathetic to your situation. Joseph D. Lento knows how your school will try to mistreat you, and he's dedicated his life to making sure they can't get away with it.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct at Cal State Fresno, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.