Charges Against Fraternities and Sororities in DC

As organizations, fraternities and sororities typically do not face the same judicial proceedings that an individual student might go through as a result of a violation of the student code of conduct.

While individual members of a university organization may be brought before a student judicial conduct board for alleged violations of the student code of conduct, the organization itself might have its charter placed in jeopardy by the university’s student organization board.

The university’s student organization oversight body can investigate broader patterns of violations by organizations. These behaviors might include hazing, drug possession and destruction of property. In the event that the organization oversight body determines that the organization is in violation of policies against those types of activities, then the university can revoke the organization’s ability to remain associated with the university.

To ensure that the harm of your charge is minimized and you are not facing disciplinary action, call and discuss your case with a DC student defense lawyer today.

Conspiracy Charges

Conspiracy is a particularly serious type of allegation in which more than one member of a student organization might be accused of collaborating with the intent to commit some criminal action and have taken some steps towards completing that criminal action.

For example, student organizations are sometimes accused of conspiracy to obstruct justice when a university believes that a student organization may have tried to cover up or hide evidence of an alleged sexual assault committed by one of the organization’s members.

These charges may also take place if a university organization may be involved in drug-related activities and have actually coordinated with each other in order to further those activities.

One example is drug distribution, either on- or off-campus. Conspiracy allegations by university organizations can be handled by the university, but they can also be prosecuted as serious criminal violations by the D.C. Superior Court or even Federal Courts.

Hazing Charges on DC College Campuses

Allegations of hazing by sororities or fraternities have gotten a lot of attention recently because of the increased frequency with which videos of hazing can be posted online through YouTube and Facebook.

The increased exposure of excessive initiation proceedings for new members of some fraternities and sororities has caught the attention of universities and the media. It has also caught the attention of prosecutors who sometimes believe that what may be considered by the organizations to be routine initiation proceedings actually rise to the level of harassment, assault or sexual abuse.

If a student organization has received allegations of excessive hazing practices that could rise to the level of a violation of the student code of conduct or even criminal violations, the students involved should discuss those possibilities with a lawyer who can advise the entire organization or individual members on how to respond to those allegations.

Are Hazing Charges The Same As Assault or Sexual Assault Charges?

Not all hazing involves assault or sexual abuse. Hazing is somewhat vaguely defined, but some hazing can rise to the level of assault or sexual abuse. In the event that hazing has gotten to the point where organization members are no longer consensually participating, then it may be treated as assault or sexual abuse and could potentially be prosecuted by the criminal courts.

Consequences For Sororities and Fraternities

Disciplinary action against a fraternity or a sorority can result in a number of sanctions. It could result in the fraternity or sorority losing its ability to continue being associated with that particular university. That also applies to any other university organizations that face disciplinary actions. If the organization is deemed to have been aware of conduct in violation of the student code by its members and not taken actions against those students, the organization’s charter can be revoked.

Individual students can also be brought before the university’s board for disciplinary conduct violations, and they can also be potentially charged with criminal violations if their actions allegedly rose to that level. Such actions can result in students being suspended, expelled and possibly arrested and charged with criminal conduct.

When These Charges Involve Certain Individuals Can The Entire Organization be Implicated?

Typically, student organizations as a whole are not charged with criminal conduct. Criminal conduct is usually charged on an individual basis, but multiple students can be charged as co-defendants by the prosecutors if the students have some connection in the alleged crimes.

Universities, however, can accuse entire organizations of being in violation of their organizational rules, which can result in penalties being imposed upon the entire organization rather than simply the individual members.

How a Student Defense Lawyer Can Help

A defense lawyer can help a student facing fraternity or sorority charges by advising him or her on the proper way to handle investigations, how to answer or not answer questions from investigators and what impact a university investigation may have on any pending or possible criminal investigations.

Balancing out the two—the university side and a possible criminal allegation—is very important to make sure the student does not incriminate him- or herself and does not take any action that could make his or her situation worse.