On Campus Rape and Sexual Assault Charges

Due to the seriousness with which sexually based offenses are treated on college campuses, it is important if you are accused you know what you are facing and what the potential consequences you may face are. Below, a DC student defense lawyer discusses what you should know about rape and sexual assault charges and why they are treated so seriously. To learn more call and schedule a consultation today.

Why Are Colleges and Sexual Assault Charges Taken So Seriously?

Recently, universities have come under a lot of fire for the way that they handle allegations of sexual assault on their campuses. This is part of a very reasonable concern over the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses between students who live in very close quarters and who might be experimenting with drugs or alcohol.

Universities have been under a lot of federal scrutiny under Title 9 rules regarding how they are required to handle accusations and properly investigate accusations of sexual assault. To preempt negative media attention over improper handling of sexual assault allegations, universities are taking these allegations very seriously.  They are setting up rules and guidelines that can place people accused of sexual assault on college campuses at a severe disadvantage, in order to avoid the impression that they are treating sexual assault too leniently.

Difference Between Sexual Assault and Harassment

Sexual assault is a specific type of sexual misconduct that involves the commission of a sexual act or sexual contact without the consent of the other person. Sexual harassment doesn’t require any actual physical or sexual contact.

The requirement of a sexual act for sexual assault typically means that there is some kind of penetration that happens between two individuals. Sexual contact doesn’t require any penetration but can include groping and fondling, and in certain situations even non-consensual kissing. Any contact of that nature that is not fully consented to by the other person involved can be considered sexual assault. On the other hand, since sexual harassment does not require physical or sexual contact, it can be deemed to occur in the absence of any physical contact.

What Is The Role of Consent In Sexual Assault cases?

In any sexual assault allegation, the university bears the burden of providing the evidence that a sexual act or sexual contact took place and that the accuser did not consent to that sexual act or sexual contact.

Potential Consequences For Rape and Sexual Assault Charges

If a student is found responsible for sexual assault on campus, there can be a variety of sanctions. Due to the serious nature of sexual assault, the most common sanction is expulsion. That means permanent removal from the university. However, there are differing degrees of sexual assault, ranging from forcibly engaging in sexual penetration without consent which is the most serious, to non-consensual kissing and touching.

Less serious forms of sexual assault are less likely to result in being permanently removed from the university. However, even milder forms of sexual assault can still result in serious consequences like suspension over the course of one or more semesters, a requirement for sexual assault counseling, and various other requirements before a person can be readmitted to the university.

How A Student Defense Lawyer Can Help

Charges of sexual assault and sexual harassment can be very intimidating because of how seriously they are treated in today’s environment. A lawyer can help a student analyze the evidence, conduct an independent investigation, seek out possible witnesses to refute the evidence presented by the accuser, and advise the student as to the best way to handle university hearings.

A lawyer can also help a student client who might be facing both a university hearing and a criminal charge to handle the university hearing in a way that can both assist the criminal case and also help ensure that the student does not disadvantage him or herself when dealing with criminal charges that could result in very serious jail time and/or sex offender registration.