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Difference Between University and Criminal Proceedings

If you have been accused of a criminal offense on a college campus, you may be tried at both a University hearing and a criminal hearing. With this in mind, the following is what you need to know about the differences between the two and how the findings at a university hearing can be used again at a criminal proceeding.

To discuss your case in more detail, call and schedule a consultation with a DC student defense lawyer.

How Is a University Charge Different From a Criminal Charge?

University charges are based on violations of the institution’s student code of conduct, and as a result, you have to look at each school’s code of conduct carefully to see what the violations are because sometimes they are broader than a regular criminal charge.

For example, there might be a violation under the code of conduct for inappropriate sexual conduct or contact and that could cover a wide variety of accused activities. This is opposed to a regular criminal statute which would apply to a narrower set of alleged activities.

That is one important way that a violation of a student code of conduct is different from a civil or criminal charge. Another way is the standard of proof. The university’s typical standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence while a criminal court is beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much stricter standard.

Can a Student Be Prosecuted at Both The University and the Criminal Levels?

Yes, and it is an issue that your defense attorney will need to be aware of. This is called a parallel proceeding and as a lawyer, you have to be very aware of the timing of each because you want to try to keep the student from having to make any statements at a student proceeding that could be used against them in a potential criminal proceeding.

However, if you cannot avoid parallel proceedings, there are certain strategies you can undertake to limit what the student will say, preparing the student for what they should or should not say at a student disciplinary hearing, and to be cognizant of getting the best result in both arenas.

Impact of a Disciplinary Hearing on a Criminal Proceeding

An exoneration in a school hearing can help you in a criminal proceeding. It can help you negotiate with the prosecutor. You can sometimes get powerful evidence from a school-level hearing that can be used in the criminal case. For example, the accuser’s testimony from a school hearing can be used to cross-examine the accuser in the criminal case when they testify, and you sometimes can get evidence from the accuser that can help in the defense for the criminal case, such as social media evidence.

Legal Representation at a University Hearing

Outside legal representation is able to represent a student, however at some schools the attorney will not be allowed in the hearing room and typically an attorney will not be able to ask questions during the proceeding or question witnesses.

In general, it is important for an attorney to be present in the hearing room because even if they are not able to ask questions, they can stop certain questions from being asked, guide how questions are answered, provide a student with follow up questions, and should be able to respond better on the fly to a witness.

Additionally, an attorney can help protect the defendant from a regular criminal proceeding from being instituted, or if it has already been instituted, to obtain information that will be helpful at the criminal proceeding while protecting the student in the student judicial proceeding.

Potential Consequences For a University Hearing

The potential consequences are suspension, expulsion, some sort of loss of privileges, and sometimes no punishment at all.

Punishment for Student Athletes

In addition to other potential penalties student athletes also run the risk of being forced off their team or potentially losing a scholarship.

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