An accusation of sexual misconduct on campus is not something you should take lightly. From the moment the person filed the complaint with the college Title IX department, your future was in jeopardy. You may think everything will be fine because you know you are innocent. However, that is a heavy risk to take.
Even though this is not a criminal proceeding, a college disciplinary hearing could have lifelong consequences if the panel finds you responsible for the alleged misconduct. You may be suspended or expelled, and the panel’s decision could become part of your college transcripts. You may be labeled a rapist.
The odds are against you
Federally funded universities and colleges in Florida and across the country are feeling tremendous political pressure to conform to anti-harassment laws, and they often interpret any suggestion of sexual misconduct as harassment. School authorities may not even tell you exactly what the other person has accused you of doing.
Efforts to avoid bad publicity or the impression that the institution is failing to protect students from predators may drive your college’s administration to give every accusation the benefit of the doubt. This often means that very little investigation may be done to find the truth. Instead, the objective of the inquiry may be to find you responsible. Knowing the school’s official process for investigating misconduct on campus may reveal that they are so eager to reach their objective, they will violate their own policies for fairness.
How an attorney can help you
College authorities may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer for the disciplinary panel. However, if your rights and future are at risk, having a lawyer may be your best option. An attorney by your side may accomplish many positive things, including:
- Finding out the exact nature of the allegations against you
- Investigating the accuser in an attempt to uncover the motives behind the charges
- Questioning any witnesses and evaluating evidence
- Investigating the disciplinary panel members for evidence of bias that would sway the ruling against you
- Walking you through the disciplinary process and representing your interests in front of the panel
- Continuing your defense if your accuser decides to press criminal charges
Your attorney will know if the disciplinary procedure is in violation of your rights. With aggressive and knowledgeable representation, you can be confident of the best possible results. You will then be more likely to put the matter behind you and proceed with your plans for a bright future.