If you have been accused of sexual assault at a public higher education institution you undoubtedly face the possibility of disciplinary action. This means that these accusations could lead to serious repercussions such as expulsion, suspension or an alternative, less severe sanction. Despite the nature of the allegations brought against you by an accuser, you are still entitled to a number of protections in accordance with the federal law's promise of due process.
Since public educational institutions are owned by the government, disciplinary proceedings and school processes contain legal restrictions. Students are not to be deprived of their rights without undergoing the due process of law. With so much at stake for accused students, it is important that these rights are protected and upheld. In fact, the more serious the charges brought, the more protection respondents should be offered by college campuses.
Private colleges and universities, although not required to afford accused students due process in the traditional sense, must nonetheless uphold their own policies and procedures regarding disciplinary action against the accused. Because of the federal government's involvement through the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, in Title IX disciplinary actions specifically, most private schools' policies and procedures will be similar to those of public schools.
If you have been accused of sexual assault on a college campus, you are afforded these rights by law:
The right to receive notice of the charges brought against you
Unfortunately, schools don't always conduct themselves in a fair manner. And at times they need to be reminded of basic provisions provided by the Constitution. The Sixth Amendment explicitly dictates that respondents have a right to be informed of the nature and cause of an accusation. This means that when a report is submitted to school authorities by an accuser, they must inform you of these charges before school processes or disciplinary actions are initiated.
The right to have your case heard under standard procedures used for all similar cases
Another aspect of the guarantee of due process is the right to have a sexual assault case heard under standard procedures. This right guarantees that all cases are mitigated in a standardized and consistent fashion across the board.
The right to hear a description of the university's evidence against you
Many times, a public college or university may inform you of the charges brought against you, but they provide little information pertaining to the evidence that supports an accuser's account of events. Hearings exist to give an accuser as well as the accused an opportunity to present their account of events and evidence. In order for a respondent to adequately defend himself or herself, he or she must be aware of the evidence that will be used against him. When this information is omitted, the hearing is technically not fair nor impartial.
The right to present your account of events to an impartial panel
Respondents have a right to give their account of the incident of sexual assault in a hearing. Just as an accuser is given a chance to make a statement and present evidence, the accused should be given the same opportunity.
The right to have a lawyer present during a hearing
Just about every higher education institution gives the accused the option of having an “advisor” to assist them during school processes and hearings. Many students hire a lawyer to be their advisor to ensure that their rights are being fully protected and to send the message to schools that they are being watched for possible misconduct.
Experienced Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of sexual assault, you should talk to an attorney who is dedicated to protecting your rights. You don't have to go through these grueling school processes along. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.