When allegations of sexual misconduct arise on college or university campuses, the complaint is likely to lead to a Title IX investigation—which is a required step that most colleges must take to retain their federal funding. However, the same allegations also may result in a criminal investigation into whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute an individual on criminal charges.
When there is a concurrent Washington DC criminal investigation and Title IX investigation, there are important distinctions, and one investigation is not likely to delay the outcome of the other. Despite the distinct nature of these investigations and resulting proceedings, evidence uncovered in one investigation often will be used in the other. Thus, if an individual makes a statement against their own interest in the Title IX investigation or proceeding, law enforcement authorities could use that statement against them in a criminal prosecution.
Due to the intertwined nature of these two types of investigations, you immediately should consider contacting an experienced Title IX defense lawyer for assistance and representation if you have been accused of an offense. A well-versed attorney could help to explain your rights and work to protect them during the ensuing process.
According to the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education, colleges and universities should not delay ongoing Title IX investigations and proceedings due to parallel criminal investigations and proceedings. As a result, concurrent investigations and proceedings often occur. This also arises because, as a matter of practice, many colleges and universities recommend that complainants of sexual misconduct also make a police report about the incident.
Even if no criminal charges are pending following a report, a criminal investigation may take time and the prosecutor must decide whether to file formal charges, which remains a possibility for a significant period. Title IX and concurrent criminal investigations in Washington DC often present a significant problem for those who are accused of sexual misconduct. If the accused persons choose to participate in the Title IX investigation through their schools, interviewers likely will interview them about the incident and ask them to provide individual pieces of evidence voluntarily.
However, participation in Title IX proceedings could be both helpful or detrimental to the future of an accused student. Cooperating with Title IX proceedings allows students accused of misconduct to tell their side of the story and may put them in a better position to exonerate themselves of the accusations leveled against them. At the same time, cooperating with Title IX proceedings puts accused students at a substantial risk of criminal and civil liability. Law enforcement officials could determine that any statements that the accused persons make during the Title IX proceedings are admissions of guilt and use them as evidence in support of criminal charges.
There are other potential problems with a Washington DC concurrent criminal investigation and Title IX investigation. Accused students certainly have the right to refuse to participate in Title IX proceedings to avoid self-incrimination on a criminal level. However, the Title IX proceedings will still progress, with or without the input of the accused.
As a result, the governing panel or decision-making body for Title IX cases on campus easily could issue a finding of sexual misconduct against students who have not told their side of the story. They also can proceed to sanction the students accordingly, which could result in suspension or expulsion. These sanctions can occur even if a criminal investigation reveals insufficient evidence of any crime.
The stakes are always high when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct directed at college and university students. These allegations can result in concurrent Washington DC criminal investigation and Title IX proceedings. As these proceedings progress, accused students could face both criminal and academic sanctions.
The long-term implications of both these types of penalties may be highly damaging to the futures of students, particularly when it comes to obtaining a college degree, pursuing graduate or professional school admission, and engaging in certain types of careers.
While no one wants to become the target of sexual misconduct allegations, taking the proper steps to protect yourself early on in the process may be crucial to protecting your future. Obtaining legal counsel immediately once you become aware of the allegations against you can be instrumental to your ability to successfully defend yourself.
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