WHY HIRE A STUDENT DEFENSE ATTORNEY?
By Jonathan Cook
An experienced Student Defense Attorney can help students navigate the often confusing campus disciplinary policies and procedures unique to each College and University and ensure students and parents do not get lost in the process. An experienced Student Defense Attorney will explain the rights afforded to the student by the College or University and the applicable procedure students face for different kinds of alleged Code of Conduct violations. Whether a student has been found responsible for Sexual Assault, Drug or Alcohol Possession, or Plagiarism and other Honor Code violations, the consequences can be just as devastating as a criminal conviction to a student's education, future and career.
The following non-exhaustive list of examples illustrate just how important it is to hire an experienced Student Defense Attorney before getting lost in the fog of campus disciplinary proceeding nuance.
1. CODE OF CONDUCT VIOLATIONS: most Colleges and Universities allow Complainants and Respondents to present hearsay testimony to the College or University investigator and during a Campus Disciplinary Conference or Campus Hearing. An experienced Student Defense Attorney can help you use this rule to your advantage.
2. TITLE IX SEXUAL ASSAULT: some Colleges and Universities allow Complainants and Respondents to present character evidence and evidence of past sexual history during Title IX Sexual Assault and Rape Hearings. An experienced Student Defense Attorney can help you use this rule to your advantage.
3. PLAGIARISM & CHEATING: some Colleges and Universities enforce a Zero Tolerance Policy when it comes to Plagiarism, Cheating, or any other alleged violation of the Honor Code or Code of Academic Integrity. An experienced Student Defense Attorney understands a fair resolution can be reached even in situations where a Zero Tolerance Policy applies.
4. DIFFERENT HEARING OPTIONS: the majority of Colleges and Universities give students accused of less serious Conduct Code violations the choice of either a one-on-one hearing or a hearing in front of a board, panel or committee. The one-on-one hearing is commonly referred to as a Disciplinary Conference. A Hearing involves a Hearing Board, Panel or Committee typically comprised of students and/or administrators assembled to adjudicate student conduct cases. An experienced Student Defense Attorney can help students decide the format most favorable to their individual case.
5. DUE PROCESS: while Government funded "state schools" must afford students fundamental Due Process rights under the Constitution, Private Colleges and Universities do not. An experienced Student Defense Attorney will understand this distinction and how to best defend a student at a public or private College or University.
REMEMBER: although it is extremely important to hire an experienced Student Defense Attorney as early in the proceedings as possible (as soon as a notice of charges is received, if not before), it is never too late. Whether a student has already been sanctioned and is in the appeals stage or even after an appeal has been denied, an experienced Student Defense Attorney can offer invaluable help.
Jonathan Cook at New England Student Defense has represented over 150 students at Colleges and Universities nationwide from Yale University and Georgetown University to the University of Houston and Tulane University.
These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.