For many people, college makes up some of the best times in their lives. But one mistake could land you in hot water with your educational institution. Most college campuses have a code of conduct that goes above and beyond what is outlawed by state law. Disciplinary charges for everything from plagiarism to underage drinking could have a significant effect on your life. If that mistake is severe enough, it could lead to suspension or even expulsion from school. If you are facing school disciplinary actions, a student defense lawyer may be able to help.
To fight back against the administrative charges against you, it may be beneficial to discuss your circumstances with a Colorado Front Range student defense lawyer. Our seasoned criminal attorneys at Nicol Gersch Law have the tools, resources, and skills to help you fight the charges against you.
While both disciplinary hearings and criminal charges could carry severe consequences for a student, the process for each proceeding is quite different. Often, many campus disciplinary rules can be far more restrictive than Colorado state law. On many campuses, behavior that is not otherwise a criminal offense could be considered a violation of a campus code of conduct.
Another consideration is the severity of a charge. In the realm of criminal law, an alcohol charge may be considered relatively minor. But for students, an allegation of drinking or drug use could carry some of the harshest consequences available such as loss of federal financial aid and loss of on-campus housing.
The rules at a disciplinary hearing are different from those at a criminal trial, as well. While criminal prosecutors can be limited in the evidence they introduce by the Rules of Evidence, such evidentiary rules are typically far less restrictive in a student disciplinary hearing. The burden to convict a student of a crime in criminal court is also usually much higher than the one imposed in a disciplinary administrative hearing at their school.
One significant difference between criminal proceedings and student disciplinary hearings is the right to legal counsel. The due process protections of the United States Constitution apply beyond the courtroom but are applied very differently at the student conduct and disciplinary hearings vs. in court. Although student handbooks and student codes of conduct allow for students to bring a support person to any hearing, there is not a constitutional right to have an attorney represent you at the university. Nevertheless, students should bring an attorney as their support person—even if they do not have the right to intervene or present evidence on your behalf—in order to protect the student’s rights.
The student disciplinary process could be confusing for anyone unfamiliar with the system. An experienced Colorado Front Range student defense lawyer may have the experience necessary to explain the disciplinary system to a student accused of a violation.
The consequences a student may face at a disciplinary hearing are different than in criminal prosecution. While a student is not at risk of facing incarceration from school proceedings, an adverse decision could still carry life-altering consequences. Some typical consequences of a disciplinary hearing include:
It is worth noting that when conduct violates both Colorado state law and the code of conduct for an educational institution, it is possible for the student to face two separate investigations and even duplicative sanctions. Even if the police decide against pressing charges or the DA dismisses the charges later, school authorities may still initiate a disciplinary proceeding against a student. A knowledgeable Colorado Front Range student defense lawyer could review the evidence and build a defense against the charges.
If you are a Colorado student facing a disciplinary proceeding, the earlier you begin building your defense, the better. You do not have to take on the disciplinary process alone and you should be aware of the implications the school proceedings may have on your criminal defense. Let a Colorado Front Range student defense lawyer help you fight the charges. Call Jenn and Justie at Nicol Gersch Law today to set up your initial consultation.