The Imperative for Retaining an Attorney
College or university sexual misconduct charges understandably frighten and embarrass the accused student. The accused student's instinct to immediately hire an attorney to defend, represent, and assist the student is certainly a good instinct. Students accused of college sexual misconduct have several good reasons for attorney defense, including:
- The student's limited time to devote to defense work while trying to maintain studies and other obligations
- The student's limited knowledge of academic policies and academic administrative procedures
- The student's limited or non-existent experience in academic administrative negotiations and advocacy
- The student's generally inferior education and maturity next to professional school disciplinary officials
- The student's impaired judgment in the student's own matter, clouded by emotions and self-interest
- The student's substantial stake in continuing and completing the college or university degree
- The student's equally substantial stake in avoiding negative marks on the student's record affecting their reputation
If you face college or university sexual misconduct charges, and your instinct is to retain an attorney to assist you, then surely act on that instinct. Your instinct is sound. But you must act wisely, not rashly, on that instinct. You have a much more important question to consider than simply whether to hire an attorney.
The More-Important Question of What Attorney to Hire
The important question that many students accused of college sexual misconduct miss, though, isn't whether to hire an attorney but instead what attorney to hire. Yes, most attorneys have at least some advocacy training. But many attorneys have very little advocacy training, skill, or experience. Many attorneys instead have transactional rather than litigation practices. Those attorneys seldom, if ever, venture into courts or other dispute-resolution forums. They instead reserve their practices for business meetings, real estate closings, and executing wills and trusts in their offices. And the attorneys who do have advocacy training and litigation experience generally have court experience rather than academic administrative experience where college sexual misconduct charges get resolved. If you hire a local criminal attorney to defend your college sexual misconduct charges, then chances are good to very good that you've hired the exact wrong kind of attorney to assist you.
Court Experience Hinders Academic Administrative Skills
Court experience, especially criminal court experience, means almost nothing in an academic administrative proceeding. Indeed, criminal court skills can hamper and detract from the necessary academic administrative skills. Local criminal attorneys may have the opposite skills that defending college sexual misconduct charges in an academic administrative proceeding needs. Local criminal attorneys are good at fighting the local prosecutor on every little issue, at every little turn. They have to fight everything because their clients are usually guilty as charged. Their only hope may be to raise enough reasonable doubt and cause the prosecutor enough case investigation and preparation burden to induce the prosecutor to offer a modest plea bargain. Cooperation, communication, sensitive win-win negotiation, and building trust and rapport while generating creative compromise are not a local criminal attorney's skills.
College Sexual Misconduct Defense Requires Different Skills
Those sensitive, diplomatic, creative, trust-building skills are exactly the academic administrative skills that an accused student needs in many cases to successfully defend and defeat college sexual misconduct charges. Coming in and pounding the lectern while making every possible argument that the other side is violating every constitutional and statutory right may be acceptable and even common and expected tactics in criminal defense, where the criminal defendant has the right to a zealous defense. Yet those tactics only offend academic administrators who control and decide college sexual misconduct cases. College and university administrators work in an academic environment of collegial relationships built on utmost honor, trust, and respect. Your college sexual misconduct defense attorney must give school disciplinary officials due honor and respect rather than destroy relationships by beating on tables. Don't hire a local criminal attorney who would apply the wrong skills. Instead, retain the experienced college sexual misconduct attorney who hones, possesses, and consistently displays exactly the right skills.
College Sexual Misconduct Defense Uses Different Laws
College sexual misconduct charges involve an entirely different set of laws than local criminal charges. When a local criminal attorney defends criminal charges in the local court, the attorney deals with state criminal law, state criminal court rules and procedures, and federal constitutional law on things like warrants, searches, and seizures. In contrast, when a college sexual misconduct defense attorney represents the accused student in a public school's college sexual misconduct proceeding, the attorney deals with state administrative law, federal regulations, school policies, and school procedures. If the college sexual misconduct proceeding involves a private rather than a public college or university, the attorney may also deal with state contract law. The sophisticated bodies of laws, rules, and regulations with which the college sexual misconduct defense attorney deals are entirely different from the laws with which the local criminal attorney deals. Given his extensive experience representing hundreds of students nationwide in college sexual misconduct cases, attorney Lento knows the applicable bodies of laws, rules, and regulations. A local criminal attorney lacking that extensive experience would generally not. Retain a lawyer who knows the law.
College Sexual Misconduct Defense Depends on Customs
Colleges and universities often publish extensive student codes of conduct, including extensive procedures. But then, sometimes they don't. Even when the school publishes a detailed code with detailed procedures, the details are nowhere near as precise and complete as the criminal codes and criminal procedures on which a local criminal attorney depends for defending those charged with crimes in the local criminal courts. The court rules are a litigation attorney's veritable Bible. Court attorneys win and lose cases based on the published details of those rules. Because colleges and universities almost never have codes and rules nearly as detailed or precise, they instead depend in their discipline proceedings on unpublished customs and practices. An experienced college sexual misconduct defense attorney knows those all-important customs and practices, while a local criminal attorney lacking extensive academic administrative experience would generally not. Hire an attorney who knows the customs.
Proximity and Availability Are Bad Biases
Students accused of college sexual misconduct generally know they need an attorney. But they don't know that a local criminal attorney is generally the exact wrong kind of attorney to hire. Then why do many accused students hire a local criminal attorney anyway? Local criminal attorneys are routinely available in college towns. They even commonly represent students in the local criminal court on minor-in-possession, drunk driving, and disorderly conduct charges. Students will easily find the names and contact information for those attorneys in advertisements online, on campus, and around town. But availability is not the same as quality, experience, fitness, or appropriate skill. Indeed, local availability is simply a deadly proximity bias. You wouldn't hire the local general practitioner physician to treat a brain aneurysm. Instead, you'd travel as far as you'd need to find a brain surgeon. So, don't hire a local criminal attorney just because the attorney is readily available. Instead, get the skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney you need to successfully defend college sexual misconduct charges, no matter the distance from which that highly qualified attorney hails.
College Sexual Misconduct Charges Require Special Skills
The reason to hire an experienced college sexual misconduct defense attorney rather than a local criminal attorney also has to do with the peculiar nature of college sexual misconduct charges. When they deal at all with sexual misconduct cases, criminal attorneys tend to deal with cases involving physical violence, rape, or statutory rape. The critical evidence in those cases is often medical, physical, and forensic. The testing, interpretation, and chain of custody of physical evidence can be the defense's critical point of attack. College sexual misconduct cases are often different. They far less often involve allegations of outright violent rape and medical or other physical evidence. They far more often involve cloudy allegations of sexual harassment, disputed claims of offensive sexual advances or touching, and extremely close calls between consensual sexual conduct or conduct exceeding prior consent. What consensual activity happens among many students at a college party raises very different issues from what violence happens between strangers at a hotel or on the street. An experienced college sexual misconduct defense attorney knows exactly what to do with those differences. A local criminal defense attorney lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience generally has none of that knowledge and none of those skills.
Attorney Lento's Special Academic Administrative Skills
College sexual misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento actually began his law career with criminal prosecution and criminal defense. Attorney Lento certainly knows his way around a criminal court. Attorney Lento has all the skills of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Yet, for many years, defending hundreds of students nationwide in college sexual misconduct cases, attorney Lento has honed his academic administrative skills into an entirely different set of methods, approaches, strategies, and behaviors. Attorney Lento adopts especially effective stances and attitudes, and makes particularly adept creative compromise proposals, in negotiations in college sexual misconduct cases that he could and would never make in a criminal court case. Attorney Lento's hundreds of successful college and university defense cases have taught him effective academic administrative defense strategies. Attorney Lento has earned his special skills through years of nationwide experience. Trust attorney Lento to deploy just the right skills for the best outcome in your college sexual misconduct matter. A local criminal attorney lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience generally has none of those special skills.
Attorney Lento's Special Network Relationships
College sexual misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has also built a network of relationships among college and university general counsel attorneys, outside retained attorneys, and disciplinary officials. School attorneys and disciplinary officials, not prosecutors, judges, and jurors, influence and decide the outcome of college sexual misconduct cases. Some colleges and universities employ those attorneys in-house within the general counsel office. Other colleges and universities retain outside attorneys from defense law firms. Attorney Lento's balanced, knowledgeable, discerning, skilled, and creative representation of hundreds of students nationwide has earned attorney Lento a sterling reputation among those school attorneys and disciplinary officials. Each case is different, and each case depends on its own merits. But attorney Lento's reputation builds instant trust and respect among school attorneys and disciplinary officials of exactly the type that opens doors to fruitful negotiations. When you retain attorney Lento, you gain access to his network of school relationships. A local criminal attorney lacking extensive academic administrative experience generally has none of that reputation and none of those network relationships.
Attorney Lento's Knowledge of Achievable Outcomes
Judgment is everything in sensitive negotiations. A good negotiator knows what the other side is likely willing to offer long before they offer it. Successful negotiations don't require tricks of the negotiation trade. They instead require that the negotiating attorney discern the authentic interests of both sides and how the facts and circumstances influence and control those interests. Successful negotiations also require that the negotiating attorney skillfully present information and options that show the other side that settlement on the client's better terms are in the other side's best interest. Skillful negotiators win not by convincing their own client so much as by convincing the other side. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can use his extensive experience in resolving college sexual misconduct cases to show your college or university that settlement on your better terms is in the school's best interests. When you retain attorney Lento for your college sexual misconduct defense, you retain a skilled negotiator who knows the best achievable outcomes and who can help the other side accept those outcomes in their own interest. A local criminal attorney lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience generally has none of those negotiation skills.
Attorney Lento's Knowledge of Trends and Tendencies
Most lawyers know the law. Fewer lawyers are good at seeing the fighting issues, where a party might win or lose a case or negotiation. Those lawyers who anticipate the fighting issues can better prepare their evidence and arguments, influencing positive settlements or contested outcomes. But then, very few lawyers have strong skills at seeing the latest trends and tendencies. Those rare lawyers who can predict outcomes based on the latest trends and tendencies know when to recommend to their clients one action or another action, such as when to compromise or when to fight on to a better finish. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has such long-standing, broad, and deep experience in college sexual misconduct cases that he knows the trends and tendencies. Clients properly pay for their lawyer's skilled and sensitive predictions more so than their lawyer's knowledge of the law, which just about anyone can look up on the internet. When attorney Lento recommends trying this or that strategy, proposing a compromise, or contesting an issue in a hearing or appeal from a hearing, you can trust that he knows the latest trends and tendencies. Local criminal attorneys lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience also lack that critical knowledge.
When College Sexual Misconduct Defense Works
Local criminal attorneys typically expect their criminal court cases to resolve at one of several stages. They'll either win dismissal at a preliminary exam, win dismissal on a pretrial motion to exclude evidence, settle for a plea bargain with their client's consent just before trial, or win or lose the case before the jury at trial. That's not at all how college sexual misconduct cases resolve in school administrative proceedings. An experienced college sexual misconduct defense attorney successfully resolves college sexual misconduct charges at entirely different stages, using entirely different methods that a local criminal attorney may well not know. An effective college sexual misconduct defense attorney may resolve a case before discipline officials even file charges, using prompt investigation and skilled informal presentations. The skilled college sexual misconduct defense attorney may alternatively resolve the charge through the school's informal resolution procedures. The skilled college sexual misconduct defense attorney may also defeat the charge at a hearing or on appeal or even in civil litigation after the school concludes its proceeding. But above all, the skilled college sexual misconduct defense attorney opens lines of communication with school attorneys, ombudsman offices, or similar oversight bodies to prompt negotiated alternative resolution. Attorney Lento knows how to successfully resolve cases at those stages unique to academic administrative proceedings. Local criminal attorneys lacking extensive academic administrative experience generally lack that knowledge and skill.
Knowing What the Accused Student Has at Stake
One of the bigger factors in achieving the best possible outcome for a student accused of college sexual misconduct is knowing what the student has at stake. You can't truly win a case if you don't know what is at stake. If you don't know what is at stake, then what seems like a win at the time of resolution can very well later prove to be a big loss. Students accused of college sexual misconduct, when unrepresented or poorly represented, often make that mistake. They just want the charges to go away without thinking about the collateral consequences of a poor resolution. Those students may admit to misconduct or accept the school's offered resolution, without realizing until much later that they've lost everything for which they were studying and working. An experienced college sexual misconduct defense attorney knows what an accused student has at stake when facing college sexual misconduct charges. The skilled college sexual misconduct defense attorney will negotiate and fight on the important points, especially to keep the student's transcript and other school records clean of misconduct findings. Local criminal attorneys lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience generally also lack knowledge of what the accused student has at stake. Don't hire the wrong attorney and then accept a bad deal.
College Sexual Misconduct Outcomes Are Different
To put the whole point of hiring the right attorney in an even more-compelling way, consider that the possible and preferable outcomes of a college sexual misconduct proceeding are entirely different than the outcomes of a criminal case in the local criminal courts. In a criminal case, the accused defendant risks jail or prison, and if not that, then community service, court costs, and a fine. A local criminal attorney would generally work to keep the defendant client out of jail, even if it meant entering a guilty or no-contest plea, deferred plea, or diversion. The defendant may even be able to expunge a conviction later. But in a college sexual misconduct case, the risk isn't jail or prison. The risk is, instead, any mark on the accused student's record that interferes with the student's ability to continue and complete the education, gain a job, and pursue a career. Even if the school imposes no sanction at all, the student who admits to misconduct in the charges' resolution may have destroyed everything for which the student works. The risk that the accused student faces isn't prison but banishment from the benefits and privileges of a solid and clean academic record. Attorney Lento knows the outcomes the accused student must win and must avoid. A local criminal attorney lacking extensive college sexual misconduct defense experience may not know the acceptable and unacceptable outcomes.
Retain a College Sexual Misconduct Defense Attorney
National college sexual misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are available for student sexual misconduct defense nationwide, no matter the location of your college or university, the nature or level of your degree program, or the sexual misconduct the charge alleges. Student sexual misconduct charges are far too serious to hire a local criminal defense attorney who lacks the necessary academic administrative skill and experience. Trust instead a premier college sexual misconduct defense attorney who has successfully defended hundreds of students nationwide against sexual misconduct and other school charges. Your education and future deserve the best. Hire attorney Joseph Lento and the college sexual misconduct defense team at the Lento Law Firm now. Call 888-535-3686 for a consultation, or use the online service.