What to do if your child has been accused of violating a school's code of conduct?
Nearly every school in the U.S., whether secondary, college, or a graduate program, has a code of conduct that can subject students to sanctions for violations of its terms. Legal guidance is crucial because the consequences can negatively impact your child's life for years to come.
General Introduction to Code of Conduct ViolationsMany families fail to appreciate that there are few due process or confidentiality protections within campus-based judicial systems. In addition, the process often includes fact-intensive evidentiary hearings with complex procedural rules and procedure. Therefore, if you are a parent of a child who has been accused of a conduct code violation or if you are a student facing questioning, it is critically important to remember that statements can be used against you in a subsequent or concurrent criminal prosecution. This means that you should not try to "talk your way out of it" - even if you are confident you did nothing wrong. Get professional advice from the outset to help you navigate the institution's policies and regulations, ensure that the rights afforded to you are being protected, and negotiate with local law enforcement to avoid separate criminal proceedings.
School disciplinary sanctions are much more than a mere "slap on the wrist."Among the sanctions typically imposed are formal reprimand, expulsion from student housing or transportation, loss of financial aid, suspension, and expulsion. Such sanctions stay on a student's permanent academic record and often must be reported when applying to other academic programs as well as on professional licensing or certificate applications, whether to practice law, medicine, accounting, or teaching.
Even if an institution does not allow attorneys to attend the hearing, representation is wise.A lawyer familiar with campus disciplinary proceedings can help investigate the allegations; explain the process to students and parents; determine whether the school has violated its own rules or state or federal laws; and weigh the various options.
Allegations of sexual harassment or assault have particularly serious ramificationsThe best that can be hoped for as a result of a sexual harassment or assault allegation is that you or your child's reputation is merely tarnished. When the accusation triggers a report to the police or a Title IX investigation, the stakes are even higher, and it is imperative to have a sophisticated defense strategy. Immediate steps include capturing and preserving the accuser's social media; removing the accused's own social media; locating surveillance video footage that supports the defense; and never speaking with police or university administrators before you have consulted with an attorney.