Monday, October 24, 2011

You Have Rights? Just Not So Much if You Are a College Violator

I practice in an area of numerous Colleges, Universities, and Schools of higher learning. Beautiful and now cold Ithaca, New York. Go 50 miles in any direction and you will hit pay dirt (lots of little private colleges).

Why do they put all these great schools so far from civilization? Is it the cheap real estate? Just saying...

Anyway, the Isolation sometimes breeds boredom. This Boredom leads to mischief which potentially leads to trouble. Trouble can be in one of two forms (there is a 3rd but I don't do relationship or mental counseling) criminal charges and/or administrative ones. Some schools like TC3 (Tompkins Community College) will suspend you (for a term) for a DWI. Some school police (campus po po) will sometimes file an administrative complaint against you rather than a criminal one.

Is this better?Is this worse? Well it's both.

1. The level of proof to demonstrate your guilt is higher on a criminal charge: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
2. The level of proof to demonstrate your guilt is lower on a campus violation: Preponderance of the evidence (a little bit more likely than not, or 51% to 49% that it is true)

Sometimes it is better to have just a criminal charge, as in possession of marijuana. Then you get Full rights, an attorney, Court, Judge, etc. I once went in to defend my 6th grader, she was accused on putting holes in a cork board (yeah I know a cork board). There I was in front of four teachers and the principal. She was guilty until proven innocent. What BS! It was like the Salem Witch Trials. Apparently she was placing her pencil into prior holes (it was a cork board). I left them a piece of my mind and a short rendition of the constitution. They were unwilling to even consider the possibility that the teacher was mistaken.

 Anyway, criminal charges (a violation) may be better than having to deal with an expensive and emotional draining suspension from school, IMO. Add it up: Dorm, Tuition, loss/waste of time and work. This is definitely not "Priceless."

Remember, Administrative Campus Violations have their own process:

First, an administrative judicial officer hearing. "One on One."
Second, if you would like an appeal to a full hearing, in front of a board. (multiple members)

You can present evidence (witnesses, letters, etc.) at these hearings. You can speak up for yourself, and your conduct.

BTW, at these hearings: NO Lawyers, NO lawyer letters, NO lawyer coaching (at least open and obvious) are allowed.

From the IC book (they are all very similar, I just happen to have their's handy)

 The presence of an attorney and/or written materials submitted by an attorney in representation of his/her student client is prohibited.

What to do? Generally, Do not give up. Defend yourself. Gather evidence. If not of your innocence (maybe you are guilty), then of your character, then of your past success (academically, personally, etc.), teachers/professors can witness to bolster you as an individual, they can also write letters on your behalf.
Take it upon yourself to "Read" your college's rule book on these hearings, fully understand their process/their procedures, and what they allow you.

BTW This is not to be construed as legal advice, every situation is different.

I believe you still have RIGHTS! Any time and any place in the USA. If you are accused of something.

I believe you must Confront your accusers. Confront the accusations. Bring everything into the clear light of day. There is too much to lose to just give up.