Student Disciplinary Hearings

College Student Disciplinary Hearings

What You Need To Know!

All too frequently, college students faced with serious conduct allegations choose to remain silent, assuming that simply telling their side of the story will resolve the issue. BIG MISTAKE. Colleges are primarily concerned with protecting their own interests, not with ensuring fairness or uncovering the truth, especially in cases involving serious accusations. If you have received a letter or email accusing you of being in violation of your college’s Student Code of Conduct, it is critical not to discuss this matter with anyone, including other students, except for a lawyer experienced in defending students in disciplinary hearings. Understanding how to navigate a college disciplinary hearing without incriminating yourself is vital. The right attorney will guide you through this process. The outcome of your case will entirely depend on how efficiently and effectively you manage the situation.

Disciplinary Hearings

The approach to discipline may differ across the different universities and colleges, yet there is a commonality in their procedure and structure. It is important to understand that the rights afforded to you in these disciplinary hearings do not mirror those guaranteed in regular criminal or civil courts:

  • There is no presumption of innocence;
  • The accuser will not likely be present at the hearing;
  • The name of the accuser or witnesses are generally not revealed at or before the hearing;
  • You are not allowed to ask the accuser questions. This limitation can hinder the ability to fully challenge the evidence or testimony against the student. Instead, they may require questions to be submitted to the panel or hearing officer, who then decides which questions to ask;
  • The hearing boils down to your word versus that of another student.
  • Disclosure of evidence against you in not obligatory. In fact, it is very rare that the college or university ever reveals the evidence against you. This makes it difficult to for accused students to understand the evidence against them, prepare an effective defense, or challenge procedural errors;
  • The opportunity to appeal may be unavailable; 
  • You are allowed to have an attorney at your side, but the attorney cannot advocate or speak for you; This restriction can put students at a significant disadvantage, especially in complex cases or when facing serious charges, such as sexual assault, that can lead to suspension or expulsion.
  • The burden of proof in a disciplinary hearing is extremely low. This low standard can sometimes result in unfair decisions based on limited or less conclusive evidence.
  • The disciplinary hearing is a kangaroo court. A “kangaroo court” is a derogatory term for a court or tribunal that ignores recognized standards of law and justice, or where the outcome seems predetermined.

Possible Consequences

Here are some of the possible penalties that come with student violations:

  • Criminal charges: serious violations can be turned over to the local prosecutor’s office
  • Loss of scholarship
  • Expulsion or Suspension
  • Reduced or failing grade
  • Suspension of athletic activities
  • A letter of reprimand placed in student’s file
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Parental notification
  • Loss of school privileges
  • Removal from campus
  • Notation on your transcript
  • Loss of personal, academic, or professional reputation
  • Cancellation of your college degree
  • A hold on your college transcript for failing to comply with certain requirements.

Experienced Attorneys In Your Corner

If you are under investigation for violating the School Code of Conduct and are subject to a disciplinary hearing, you should immediately contact the experienced attorneys at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. We understand there is a lot at stake, and we will assist you in preparing for the hearing to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. Schedule a no-cost consultation with us by calling 213-481-6811. We have successfully represented students attending various colleges and universities in Los Angeles County, including, but not limited to, USC, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University, Pasadena Community College, and Glendale Community College.

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