Disciplinary Charges on DC College Campuses

If you are a student who has been notified of a disciplinary charge against you, it is imperative that you know what to expect and consult with a DC student defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin minimizing the harm. With this in mind, the following is general information on disciplinary hearings on college campuses, to learn more schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney today.

Common Types of Disciplinary Charges

For university disciplinary hearings, some of the most common types of disciplinary charges are:

  • Drug possession
  • Drug distribution allegations
  • Assault allegations
  • and frequently allegation of sexual assault, or sexual harassment.

Even allegations that may not constitute a crime can still be considered violations of the student judicial code for student’s university.

As an example, sexual harassment is typically not considered to be a crime. Making statements to another individual of a sexual nature that are unwanted statements are typically protected as first amendment protected speech when it comes to local criminal codes, but those kinds of actions can, in some situations, be violations of a student code of conduct.

Academic Disciplinary Charges

Accusations of dishonesty, plagiarism, forgery, or cheating can also be charged as violations of a student ethics code. These are charges that wouldn’t be considered crimes, but can still be treated very harshly by the university. They can result in disciplinary probation, suspension, or in very serious situations, they can result in expulsion.

Internet Related Disciplinary Charges

One of the most prevalent topics on university campuses recently are issues of cyber bullying. Allegations of cyberstalking, online threats, online harassment, or online shaming, when taken to a very pervasive level, can be treated as a violation of a student code of conduct. Universities more recently have started to treat allegations of cyber bullying and cyber stalking very seriously because these issues are getting more media attention than in the past.

Difference Between Legal Proceedings and College Disciplinary Hearings

Universities are governed by a student code of conduct. The student codes of conduct give details as to what actions are violations of the student code, and what possible sanctions and punishments a student might face for violating the code of conduct. Also included are the procedures by which the university conducts hearings to determine whether or not a student was in violation of the student code of conduct.

An important thing to remember about student judicial hearings is that students do not have a right to be represented by a lawyer who can advocate on a student’s behalf. Students have the right to have an advisor who can be a lawyer; but the advisor doesn’t necessarily have to be a lawyer. Advisors don’t have the opportunity to make statements on a student’s behalf or to discuss the allegations with the university administration on the student’s behalf.

Are Attorneys Allowed Inside the Disciplinary Hearing?

Students are required, under most university codes of conduct, to directly discuss the matter with the university’s administration and to represent themselves in the actual hearing. Students don’t have the same constitutional protections in university hearings that they have in a criminal proceeding. For example, students who live in campus housing don’t have privacy rights. Their dorm rooms can be searched without warning. They can be required to make statements to university police officers or university administrators without being informed of their rights.

Students can be disciplined for not making statements to explain themselves in university hearing. This is unlike a criminal case, where a defendant cannot be required to make statements on his or her own behalf.

Most Intimidating Aspects of Disciplinary Charges

The most intimidating aspect of receiving a notice of a college or a university disciplinary charge is that the student may feel they are up against extraordinary odds because the university writes the rules and prosecutes the violations. The university decides who adjudicates the hearing. Ultimately, the university decides the outcome. The university is judge, jury, and executioner.

Another intimidating aspect of the university disciplinary hearing is that students aren’t entitled to the same rules of due process and the same constitutional protection that apply to criminal proceedings. The rules can be very vague and give the university a lot of leeway as far as how the hearing is conducted. The hearings maybe conducted in a way that the students often don’t understand.

For these reasons, getting the help of a lawyer who has experience dealing with universities and university disciplinary hearings makes the process significantly less intimidating.

Notification of Disciplinary Charges

Typically, when a student is accused of violating the student code of conduct at the university he or she attends, they are first notified of an allegation by their university’s judicial body which may have a different name depending on the university. The student may receive that notice either in their email or in their regular mail. The student is informed that there is a pending allegation and are often given a set of instructions. Those instructions may ask the student to set up a meeting with the student judicial administrator to review the procedures that are followed in an investigation of the allegations.

The student is required to follow certain rules. Often these rules include requirements to not communicate with an accuser, to stay out of certain areas of the university, or to comply with certain other rules while the investigation is pending.

Is There Often a Lot of Notice For Disciplinary Charges?

Typically students are given little advance warning they must appear for an initial meeting with a student judicial administrator. Sometimes the meeting takes place within a few days, but it’s very important that when a student receives a notice that there is a pending investigation, they contact a lawyer with experience in university hearings as soon as possible. The lawyer can advise the student about the next steps, and what the student should or shouldn’t do while the investigation is pending.