If you have been accused of violating the rules of a public or private university, like the University of Central Florida, Valencia College, Rollins College, Seminole State College, or others, or committing a crime on campus, a criminal defense attorney can immediately help you to protect your best interests. Your willingness to take swift action could protect your future both at the university as well as outside the walls of the school.
Getting Help with a Code of Conduct Case
Whether your case involves a UCF Golden Rule Hearing, a Title IX investigation, an Honor Code case, or a similar hearing at another school, you can benefit from the insight of a criminal defense attorney. There’s some critical things you need to know at the onset of your case. Violations of any student code of conduct can lead to many different consequences, varying from a simple warning all the way up to expulsion.
Although expulsion is typically reserved for the repeated violations or the most severe violations, any other punishments could endanger your ability to finish your education or in finding future employment.
Code of conduct hearings could impact your scholarships, involvement in school activities, university employment, or campus housing. Furthermore, you may be subject to monitoring by the Conduct Office and your disciplinary record may affect your ability to get into graduate school, receive professional licensing or transfer your education.
You need to understand the process of these policies and what you need to do to protect yourself immediately after being accused. There are very complicated matters associated with a student conduct hearing, and they should never be minimized or ignored by a person who could be dealing with significant fallout and consequences.
What to Do After You’ve Been Accused of a Student Conduct Violation
UCF Student Conduct violations should always be taken seriously. College students that are facing any criminal offense could be looking at additional consequences, like termination from school, loss of school credit, or disciplinary action by the school.
UCF students do have the right to a hearing, and they can have a criminal defense attorney present at this hearing. The UCF Golden Rule Student Handbook states that all students have the right to an impartial and fair hearing on matters like disciplinary proceedings. This can include violations of nonacademic as well as academic regulations.
Some of the most common violations include allegations of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct. If a student is accused of sexual violence, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct, the university has the opportunity to handle the situation in a few different ways. Victims may receive a No Contact Order based on the discretion of UCF. Furthermore, UCF may allow alternative course completion options, provide access to counseling services, provide escorts, and provide help in housing relocation. Under Title IX, the university has a responsibility to investigate any report of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct and to take appropriate and prompt action.
Victims can also choose whether or not they wish to use the Conduct Review Process to pursue action. If the university does indeed move forward, the accused and the victim are notified of the alleged charges, and they will each have an appointment date to discuss the matter in greater detail with the Office of Student Conduct. The process for a student conduct hearing typically follows several of the same steps.
First, the person who has been accused of a conduct violation will receive notice through regular mail or by email. The letter notifies the alleged violator of the offenses in question, as well as date range and time to meet with a Code of Conduct Advisor. During this initial meeting or Academic Honor Code hearing, these individuals appointed on the Student Conduct Board will review the allegations, discuss the evidence against the alleged perpetrator and explain the punishment process.
Depending on the specific allegations, an offer of punishment may be made on that day to the accused person if that individual admits to it. If this is not an option presented or if it is not pursued by the person who has been accused, the officers in this hearing will set a future hearing. Any punishment that could lead to expulsion or suspension will need to be taken to a hearing regardless. If the accused person denies the allegations, they could opt for a hearing in front of a panel of several officers or just one officer.
Certain allegations require a panel for the hearing, and the decision can be the difference between being punished for these allegations or beating them.
Stages of a Student Conduct Hearing
At the hearing, the student who has been accused of the misconduct has the opportunity to admit to the allegations or to deny them. If the student admits to the wrongdoing, they will be given a chance to speak about the punishment that they intent to receive and why. If these allegations are denied, then the hearing begins.
The Code of Conduct Office allows the accused person to make an opening statement. From that point forward, these Code of Conduct Office presents their own evidence, including police reports, witness statements, records, photographs, or any other details that may be helpful to their case.
The accused person does have the opportunity to ask questions of witnesses, to provide better clarification, and apply crucial details that the accused person believes to be valuable to the outcome of the case. At the end of this evidence presentation, the accused person is permitted to make a closing statement, arguing why he or she should not be held in violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
A hearing officer then deliberates based on the evidence that has been presented to determine whether or not the accused person is in violation. The officer is then responsible for announcing whether or not a violation occurred and the recommended penalty.
Contact an Experienced Student Conduct Attorney
The best way to avoid problems with a student code of conduct hearing is to be extremely prepared. Being knowledgeable about these situations is very helpful. Having someone to represent you at the hearing as your advisor is also valuable for your future. UCF students and many at other universities have the right to attend any formal disciplinary hearing with an advisor of their selection present.
The advisor cannot speak on the student’s behalf during the hearing. However, the student can consult directly with the advisor over the course of the hearing. These hearings are quite different from a legal proceeding in a courtroom. However, they are an administrative hearing that bears some semblance to a hearing in a trial.
UCF will not necessarily advise a student of their rights, although these rights do exist. It is helpful to have an attorney present to ensure that the rights are not violated, as well as to inform the student about the rights as the case unfold. Some of the most serious consequences associated with Student Conduct hearings include suspension for multiple semesters, academic probation, disciplinary probation, and an expulsion.
If the complex procedural objections are not raised over the course of the first Student Conduct hearing, including substantial evidence, due process, and essential requirements of the law, there is no opportunity to appeal the hearing outcome in the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida, leading to further frustrations, if your hearing does result in punitive or severe violation or severe sanctions.
It is beneficial to have an attorney working on your case from the moment that you have been accused so that you can avoid many of the most common missteps in these cases and have better peace of mind about protecting your interest over the duration. An attorney who is familiar with this process can be extremely beneficial for a student who has been accused.
You could be expelled from school if found in violation and could lose your on-campus job, on-campus housing, scholarship money, in addition to other penalties. Hearing officers are school employees and may occasionally be students themselves. It is important to remember that they are not experts at understanding the hearing process or trained legal professionals. You cannot rely on this individuals present at this hearing to explore all the evidence and to verify that your rights have been protected if you do not have a criminal defense attorney with you.
The hearing officer is responsible for determining that the accused person is in violation by a preponderance of the evidence. This means they have to decide that the evidence against the accused person proves that more likely than not, the person did indeed commit the crime. These academic hearings can be unnerving since they can have a major impact on the outcome of your case. It is strongly recommended that you retain a criminal defense attorney in Orlando who has extensive experience with academic hearings and who could help you figure out how to best protect your future.
You deserve a lawyer who will take your case seriously as soon as you have been accused. Contact Frost Law at (407) 670-5569 today to schedule a free consultation to review your case.