Students facing sexual misconduct charges can and should retain legal representation. Those who have been accused of sexual misconduct could face serious consequences if found guilty.
Immediately following an accusation, students should reach out to an experienced campus sexual misconduct attorney. Since the alleged victim will have an advocate assigned from the law enforcement agency, from the DA’s office, and even from the university, it is best to have legal help. You should seek help from an attorney who could help you help navigate the system. Jenn and Justie at Nicol Gersch Law could help you learn about the steps to take following Colorado Front Range sexual misconduct charges.
A person notified of sexual misconduct charges should hire an attorney immediately. Students should not talk to the police without an attorney present. They should not talk about the offense with anyone, ever. They should not talk to the alleged victim or make any attempt to have anyone else, including a third party or social media, talk to the victim, and they should not go through the student hearing process alone.
In most student misconduct hearings, they can have a support person even though they do not have the right to have an attorney represent them in those hearings. They need to have an attorney with them as their support person. Also, they should not make a written statement whatsoever. Instead, they should assert their Fifth Amendment right and protect themselves against criminal charges even if it ultimately ends up harming their educational opportunities. Of course, only a seasoned attorney can advise them about possible implications, and our goal is always to minimize the harm to the individual in both the criminal and administrative systems.
Campus administration uses a different standard than criminal court. They do not have to prove that the incident happened beyond a reasonable doubt. They just must think it is more likely than not that the person did the act. They can take any sort of action that they deem necessary up to and including expulsion from the university. Other consequences of sexual misconduct include loss of on-campus housing, restrictions on where they can go and what classes they can take, loss of the right to graduate, a transcript hold noted on their transcripts, inability to register for the next semester or longer, and even refusal to transfer credit to another university.
They can prohibit the person from going anywhere near where the alleged victim might be found on campus, including prohibiting them from entire buildings such as dormitory facilities. They can also restrict them from keeping their current class schedule if it involves shared classes with the alleged victim. They will force them to drop out of a class if the alleged victim is there, or convert it to an online-only class if the professor offers that.
The accused person does not get a refund of any tuition or costs associated with having to withdraw from the university or having to drop classes. They do not get a refund for anything they paid that they are not allowed to finish.
The criminal court cannot have the ability to impose any sanctions at the university level. Instead, they impose a period of incarceration, intense sex offender treatment, and a requirement to register as a sex offender. Those remedies are entirely within the purview of the court system and are not considered administrative sanctions at the university.
Mitigation is also a factor, and attorneys will develop mitigation strategies to reduce any possible penalties. Mitigation in a sexual offense case will be something like having a pre-plea sexual evaluation done on the client or even getting them into mental health treatment before going to court. That sexual evaluation can then be used should they ever have to go to probation or sex offender treatment. It is provided to the DA in the context of settlement negotiations, so it cannot be used against them in trial. The evaluation concerns risky behaviors, safety factors, mental health conditions, recommended treatment, risk level for reoffending, and more.
Mental health treatments, community service, or victim impact panels are also options to help mitigate potential penalties. Sometimes, college students can benefit from a “respecting boundaries” class that discusses consent in a sexual context.
Attorneys in any criminal case will look for a valid legal defense. A valid legal defense includes things like violations of constitutional rights that would prohibit the court from going forward with the charges. Attorneys can advise the accused about any possible Constitutional Motions they can file to protect their rights and ultimately maybe even have the case dropped. Attorneys also investigate whether the prosecution has enough evidence to pursue the charges and may even re-interview all of the witnesses. Victims routinely recant, and an experienced attorney can correspond (for legal purposes) with a helpful victim even if there is still a mandatory protection order in place.
If you have been charged with sexual misconduct, do not handle your case alone. Justie and Jenn can help your case. Call today to learn about the steps to take following Colorado Front Range sexual misconduct charges.