Why Retain a College Misconduct Defense Attorney, not a Local Criminal Attorney

College Conduct Codes Regulate Many Behaviors

Colleges and universities expect certain behaviors from their students and have their ways of punishing misbehavior. Colleges and universities have elaborate codes of conduct with which the schools expect their students to comply. Those codes of conduct can stretch into pages and pages of prohibitions, demanding that students not do this and not do that. Some of the prohibitions are obvious, like those against physical violence. But college and university conduct codes reach many other behaviors that students might not think would place their education and future in jeopardy. We're not even talking about academic misconduct or sexual misconduct, which are addressed by other codes. Here, we're talking only about behavioral misconduct, things that students commonly do at school unrelated to their studies. Colleges and universities commonly charge students with code of conduct violations for any or all of the following, and many other, common behaviors:

  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Drunk and disorderly conduct
  • Drunk and reckless driving
  • Drug use, distribution, or possession
  • Trespass and other unauthorized entry
  • Vandalism or other property damage
  • Theft and receiving stolen property
  • Computer misuse
  • Multiple unpaid parking tickets
  • Credit card misuse
  • Failing to obey school directives
  • Hazing, stalking, bullying, and cyberbullying
  • Rioting, unauthorized protests, and disrupting school functions
  • Excessive noise
  • Fighting and other endangerment
  • False fire alarms and damaging fire equipment
  • Sharing and misusing school identification and passwords
  • False statements to school officials

College Conduct Codes Are Behavioral, Not Criminal

Some of the above misbehaviors are criminal in nature, but most of them are not. College and university codes of student conduct are not criminal codes. College and university codes of student conduct instead regulate a far broader range of social, civil, financial, and personal behaviors. Colleges and universities aren't just trying to keep their students out of jail, which is the general purpose of law enforcement, to discourage criminal behavior. Colleges and universities are instead trying to positively and proactively shape, influence, and mature their students into whole, social, happy, productive, and flourishing citizens. If you face code of conduct violation charges at your college or university, you need representation by a college student conduct defense attorney who understands the breadth and aim of your school's student code of conduct. A local criminal attorney who lacks experience defending students against code of conduct violations generally won't appreciate the difference between a school code and the criminal code. Don't retain a dentist to do a doctor's work. You're not trying to stay out of jail when defending a school conduct code charge. You're trying to finish an education that will prove your maturity, character, and employability.

Student Code of Conduct Violations Can Be Serious

Students at colleges and universities across the country face school misconduct charges for all of these violations and many other violations. You are not alone If you face charges of student code of conduct violations. But don't make the mistake of underestimating the seriousness of college or university misconduct charges. College and university student codes of conduct uniformly authorize the schools to impose serious sanctions right up to and including permanent expulsion and dismissal from the school. You could, under the wrong circumstances, get kicked off campus, barred from returning, and permanently expelled for any of the above violations and many other violations. And expulsion from school can bring a host of bad collateral consequences, including:

  • Inability to complete your degree
  • Inability to transfer to another school
  • Inability to gain admission to other schools
  • Loss of employment, job prospects, and careers
  • Inability to obtain professional or vocational licenses
  • Acceleration of school loans
  • Loss of school housing, medical care, and transportation
  • Loss of mentor and social relationships
  • Impacts on family relationships and support

Why You Need a College Student Conduct Defense Attorney

You can see that these collateral consequences, flowing from charges that you violated your school's student code of conduct, place everything for which you have worked and many things you hope yet to achieve, at risk and on the line. You have tons at stake when facing college or university behavioral misconduct charges. If your instinct, then, is to promptly retain an attorney to assist you, you've got the right thought in mind. Lawyers have an old saying that when you represent yourself, you have a fool for a client. Lawyers apply that saying even to themselves. Attorneys who face their own charges routinely hire an attorney to defend them. You should, too. When you face misconduct charges, your emotions, as understandable as they are, will cloud your judgment. You may rush into things, ignore other things, and generally make a mess of your own defense because of your understandable fears and anxieties. You may also know little to nothing about how colleges and universities handle code of conduct violation proceedings. That's why you need a skilled and experienced attorney. Many students realize that they should get qualified attorney help. You, too, should do so. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team.

The Kind of Attorney Matters as Much as Having an Attorney

The bigger question, though, is what kind of attorney to hire. If you didn't know it already, appreciate that attorneys specialize. Law is a vast field. No single attorney can master all of the law's many fields. Indeed, few attorneys can truly master more than a handful of those fields. It doesn't even make good economic and practical sense for an attorney to try. The attorney who dabbles in another field in which the attorney lacks skill and experience is a malpractice lawsuit waiting to happen. The dabbler makes clients lose and makes clients unhappy. Dabbling helps no one, neither the client nor the attorney. Instead, when you face college or university code of conduct violation charges, you need an attorney who has skill and experience defending college and university students against code of conduct violation charges. Yes, it's that clear and that simple: student misconduct defense is a niche practice for attorneys, meaning that student misconduct defense is different enough from more-common law fields that attorneys dabble in it at their clients' peril. Don't just determine that you need an attorney. Recognize that you need a college and university code of conduct violation defense attorney. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team.

The Forum for School Code of Conduct Violations Differs

College and university code of conduct violation defense is a separate field of attorney practice, for which you need an attorney skilled and experienced in that niche practice for several reasons. First, the forum differs from the usual forums in which attorneys practice. When your college or university charges you with a code of conduct violation, the proceeding commences, continues, and concludes within the school, not in the courts or other places where attorneys usually practice. Professors, department chairs, deans, and other school officials, not prosecutors or other court officials, conduct the code of conduct violation proceedings. Everything of consequence in the proceeding happens at the school, not in the courts, at business offices, or in law firms, where attorneys commonly practice. Your college student conduct defense attorney must know the way around the school. Knowing one's way to the courthouse and around the courtroom, as a local criminal attorney would naturally know, simply won't help. Don't retain a local criminal attorney who lacks experience in student conduct defense. Don't hire a fish out of water. Instead, retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team.

The Decision Makers for School Violation Charges Differ

Not only is the forum for college student conduct code violation defense different, but so are the decision-makers. A local criminal attorney trying to get the defendant client off of criminal charges deals mostly with a judge, prosecutor, police officers, detective investigators, and jury. Those court personnel and professionals are the decision-makers in criminal cases. In contrast, with college or university code of conduct violation charges, the decision-makers are all academics. Professors or instructors, student services directors, student affairs professionals, campus custodians and security contractors, and other students are often the key witnesses, not police and detectives. Department chairs, directors, student deans, and vice presidents are often the disciplinary officials. Student and staff members of the college or university community often compose the hearing and appeal panels deciding the charges. All of these academics can influence the outcome of student code of conduct violation charges. A college student conduct defense attorney knows how to respect, treat, deal with, and influence members of the academic community. A local criminal attorney lacking experience in college student conduct defense would generally not know how to influence academic actors. The language, approach, norms, and customs are all different. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team for the skills you need in dealing effectively with your academic community.

The Law for School Code of Conduct Violations Differs

Local criminal attorneys know one body of law, necessary to defend those whom the criminal courts charge with crimes. A skilled and experienced college student conduct defense attorney knows different bodies of law essential to successfully defending college and university students against code of conduct charges. The law for criminal defense in the courts is entirely different from the law for student defense at the college or university. State criminal codes and local city ordinances define crimes. Local criminal attorneys know the state criminal codes and local city ordinances well, like the back of their hand. They must know the criminal codes to be effective. Local criminal attorneys also know the case law and statutory law that defines the defendant's constitutional rights. But the student conduct code at your school defines conduct violations, while state and federal regulations, and contract terms and contract law, define your rights as a student facing a misconduct proceeding. A college student conduct defense attorney knows the school law that a local criminal attorney lacking experience in student conduct defense would not generally know. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team for the legal knowledge you need to beat your school's charge.

The Procedures for School Code of Conduct Violations Differ

The procedures for student conduct defense also differ from criminal court procedures. Procedure means everything to a student's successful defense. Your retained attorney must know the ins and outs of how your school will handle your charge, including how to take appropriate advantage of the rights and protections those procedures afford you. Schools publish some of those procedures, either in the student code of conduct or in other policies. Custom and practice fill the gaps. In contrast, a local criminal attorney relies on published criminal court procedures that are very detailed and have very few or no gaps. Criminal procedure case law fills any gaps. In criminal court, everyone generally goes by the published rules and follows the precedent case law. Those criminal court procedures are entirely different from the procedures your school will follow in your code of conduct violation case. A college student conduct defense attorney will know the school procedures, published and unpublished, while a local criminal attorney lacking that experience will generally not know the procedures. A winning defense requires knowing the ground rules. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team for their strategic knowledge of the right rules and procedures.

Relationships Differ in Student Conduct Defense

In student conduct defense, your attorney's approach to and relationship with school officials is one of the biggest influences on the success of your defense. School officials work in an academic culture in which everyone gives and expects due respect. Academic culture is formal, cordial, diplomatic, honorable, and at times even genteel, built and depending on trust and respect. Your attorney must generally communicate with and otherwise treat school officials with the greatest deference to and respect for their academic standing. That approach doesn't mean giving up or giving in. But your attorney must give respect where respect is due, or you may lose critical opportunities for a successful resolution of your case. Those school officials hold your educational future in their hands. Offending them unnecessarily won't help your defense. In contrast, attorney ethics require a local criminal attorney to mount a vigorous and zealous defense to criminal charges. That duty can mean challenging the prosecution at every possible turn. Relationships aren't trusting. They are instead mistrusting, with the criminal attorney trying to cast reasonable doubt on any prosecution evidence or act. For a successful college code of conduct violation defense, you need the approach of a skilled and experienced college student conduct defense attorney, not the approach of a local criminal attorney. Retain college student conduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student conduct defense team for the relationships and approach you need for a winning defense.

Student Conduct Cases Resolve at Different Stages

A local criminal attorney knows how and when criminal court cases resolve. A local criminal attorney may win dismissal of criminal charges at a preliminary exam hearing, hearing on a motion to suppress evidence, or at trial by directed verdict or jury verdict. Criminal cases also resolve in plea bargains, often just before trial commences. College and university student conduct code cases resolve at very different stages. A student conduct case has no preliminary exam, no motions to suppress, and no jury trial. Wit