The presumption of guilt that is cast onto college students who have been accused of sexual assault has a lasting impact on a respondent's ability to collect evidence and the outcome of a case. Higher education administrators and school staff that believe a person is guilty of a perceived sexual assault may treat a respondent unfairly, by providing limited information about allegations to the accused or by hindering a student's efforts to ask questions about a case.
Accused students receive little assistance from the U.S. Department of Education and the institutions they attend. And peers and fellow counterparts who are aware of the allegations may want to distance themselves from you due to the debacle you're involved in. The only place where you'll receive constant and unwavering support is from an attorney who is dedicated to fighting for your rights.
Here are a few benefits that the presence of an attorney will bring in the event that you are accused of a sexual assault:
Increased Chance of a Fair Hearing
At most higher education institutions, students accused of sexual assault are expected to contend the case on their own. Oftentimes, this is a difficult endeavor considering the attitudes that college staff and authorities tend to exhibit towards the accused of a perceived sexual assault. Those who catch wind of the allegations may assume that a respondent is guilty before a hearing commences, leaving people to give them a harder time than they would give an accuser involved in the same case. This treatment may hinder a respondent from getting the information that he or she needs to properly defend a case. In many circumstances, a school administration may make efforts to limit the information given to the accused or discourage the accused from presenting evidence relevant to a case, especially when a school is aware that they may be able to get away with this unfair treatment in the absence of a legal professional.
However, having an experienced lawyer on the case can help ensure that you aren't robbed of your rights to have a fair hearing. When an attorney is hired in a case involving a perceived sexual assault on a college campus, he or she will send what's known as a “litigation hold” letter to inform the school that the case is being assessed by a legal professional and that if matters aren't handled appropriately, a lawsuit may be in the works. Attorneys occasionally may need to request that a school preserve evidence and make it accessible to the accused because in the past officials have been caught red-handed destroying and hiding evidence that may be relevant to a case.
Going about the investigation process alone is risky. After all, you most likely have not been taught how to thoroughly investigate a case and how to gather evidence that may be crucial for you. This is why it's important to seek legal representation. Attorneys with trial experience have worked closely with investigators in the past, and know how to ask the proper questions in order to get the information that you need. Although an attorney, may not be directly involved in a case, they are not prohibited from helping you interview witnesses, collect evidence and give you ideas that you may not conjure up on your own.
Perceived sexual assault cases on college cases are always highly individualized. A series of events could happen that could completely change the nature and outcome of a case. Chances are you have no legal experience, and won't be able to identify the occurrences that could be considered traction in a case, or instances that may not grant you much traction during a disciplinary action. Consulting with an experienced attorney who has dealt with similar cases before and has seen the tables turn in the favor of the accused, would be beneficial for a respondent.
Experienced Defense Attorney
If you are a student who has been accused of sexual assault, and you have been told that you don't need an attorney, that is not true. With such high stakes, you need professional help protect your rights and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today.