College is a time of experimentation and learning. When you attend a school, you agree to abide by their regulations, often just by receiving the code of conduct, whether or not you read it. If you or a loved one is facing a violation of a university or college's code of conduct regulation around federal, state, or local offenses, you should take it very seriously. The code of conduct at a school does not hold legal ramifications; however, the college or university may impose penalties as a result.
Sometimes, schools list federal, local, and state offenses within their code in broad terms. For example, Penn State University’s Code of Conduct states: “When it is established that a student or student organization has violated federal, state, or local law and the violation of law affects a Substantial University Interest” and underneath the Hazing section, it states, “when a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly, … causes, coerces or forces a minor or student to do any of the following: Violate Federal, State, or Municipal law or University policy or procedure;” Columbia University is even more specific: “Violations of federal, state, or local laws are prohibited. This may include violation of the law of another country, state, or municipality as applicable local laws are prohibited.”
It's critical that if you are facing conduct of conduct allegations at your university or college, you consult an attorney-advisor as quickly as possible, especially if they concern local, state, or federal offenses.
What Are Some Examples of Behavior that Might Fall into This Category?
There are a wide variety of behaviors that may fall into the category of federal, state, and local offenses. Your Code of Conduct will list out some of these, so you should take some time to read through it. However, these behaviors could include:
- Underage drinking
- Illegal drug use or possession
- Rape or sexual assault
- DUI or DWI (driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence)
What are Possible Penalties from my University or College for Federal, State, or Local Violations?
Possible penalties will vary based on your school's regulations, so it's imperative that you familiarize yourself with your college or university student handbook or Code of Conduct. Sanctions will depend on the procedure outlined there as well. At some universities, a hearing panel comprised of all faculty members may determine the penalties. Other colleges may have a decision made by an investigative committee that includes both students and faculty or staff members. The variance of terminology and implications is why you should really take time to read through the documents that your school provides. Some possible sanctions may include:
- Mandatory participation in educational courses, such as alcohol awareness or anger management
- Suspension that varies in length, from a semester to a year
- Formal reprimand on your academic record
- Loss of financial aid as a result of your suspension or expulsion changing your qualifications
How Can an Attorney-Advisor Assist with my Code of Conduct Violation?
An experienced attorney-advisor can help you or your child face the intricacies of the college disciplinary proceeding, and they'll be aware of both potential outcomes and possible defenses. Many colleges and universities allow students to have an advisor accompany them to the hearing. An attorney-advisor can help defend your case and possibly get the university or college to drop or reduce the alleged charges. During such a frightening and embarrassing situation, being able to trust the person who's fighting by your side can bring immense comfort to the process.
My School Prohibits Attorney-Advisors at my Hearing: Can You Still Help?
Some colleges or universities prohibit participants external to the school from attending the hearing. However, even if your school does not allow attorney-advisors to attend the hearing panel, an attorney-advisor can still be invaluable. If you or a loved one is currently facing this sort of circumstance, you do not have to navigate this challenge alone. An attorney-advisor can help you investigate the allegations and how to best defend against them; their expertise in fighting code of conduct violations informs their ability to help sift through the evidence and understand what will strengthen you or your loved one's case. It can also be helpful to practice discussing possible questions that might come up during the hearing. Preparation is the best defense in these circumstances. All of these components ensure that you're best able to defend your or your loved one's future.
Collateral Consequences of Federal, State, or Local Violations of the Code of Conduct
The consequences from a code of conduct violation extend far beyond the immediate sanctions that your school's hearing board or committee may choose to impose. First and foremost, if your school imposes sanctions, the sanction may go onto your permanent academic record. If you decide to apply for graduate school or internships—both competitive situations—that code of conduct violation may impact your acceptance to the program, thereby further impacting your future earning potential. If your school chooses to suspend or expel you, your ability to qualify for financial aid could change. Loss of financial aid also has long-term consequences. With so much at risk, it's important that you fight the code of conduct allegations.
Contact a Seasoned Code of Conduct Attorney-Advisor Today
If you are facing an accusation of a code of conduct violation at your college or university of local, state, or federal laws, a highly experienced attorney-advisor will be able to advise you and make certain that you understand how to best defend your case. These allegations can impact the rest of your academic career, to say nothing of any other implications. It's critical that you find an attorney-advisor whose expertise is in code of conduct violations. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped thousands of students across the nation fight against code of conduct violations. Let their experience help you craft the best strategy to win your case. Contact us online or call us today at 888.535.3686 to discuss the specifics of your case.