Schools take their code of conduct very serious. Any violation of this code can lead to a student conduct investigation. What happens during a student conduct investigation? What happens if they find evidence to try and either suspend or expel you? Read on to find out what the process is, what to expect, and possible outcomes of a code of conduct violation in college.
What are code of conduct violations?
- Cheating – These violations include: obtaining or using unauthorized assistance or unauthorized aids; looking at another student’s test; using a cell phone in the bathroom or at your desk to look up test answers; using old course materials as a study aid; and, helping someone else cheat.
- Plagiarism – These conduct violations include: Forgetting to cite a source or two; using purchased assignments or having someone else complete your work; using a friend’s paper as your own; or, self-plagiarism, which is submitting your own original work from a previous class.
- Other Honor Code Violations – These violations can include: the possession of drugs, having weapons (even BB guns on campus), alcohol on school grounds; inappropriate or unacceptable behavior in a clinical or internship setting, or inappropriate verbal behavior, and more.
How do I know I am being investigated for a code of conduct violation?
If a claim is filed against a student, the next step is an investigation. Typically, the student is notified in writing that an investigation has been opened against them. In this initial letter, it is not unusual for the school to leave out what the allegations are. Schools leave the student to wonder what happened, which causes them to be unprepared for the next step – the preliminary conference.
What happens at the preliminary conference for a code of conduct investigation?
You will meet with school staff and they will tell you what you are accused of violating. I always recommend that the student just listen, not respond. It is not necessary to respond to the allegations at this initial meeting. By making a statement, you lock yourself into a defense, a defense that may not be best once all the evidence against a student is made available.
How do I get all of the evidence the school is using to charge me with a code of conduct violation?
This answer should be simple – request it from the hearing officer. However, I have helped students through nightmare situations where schools either do not give the student the documents they can have, or the school charges the student with a violation not supported by the evidence. These two points are the reason hiring an experienced student defense lawyer is necessary. I have seen schools take advantage of students who are unfamiliar with the process and move forward with unsupported charges all too often.
How can I fight the honor code violation?
Any time a student is accused of an honor code violation, some process for the student to challenge the charge, usually a hearing, is held. The hearing can be informal, meaning in front of a hearing officer, or formal, meaning in front of a panel of students and faculty. At the hearing, the student gets the chance to tell their side of the story. At that time, it is important for the student to make the best presentation of their side of the facts. You get only one chance to argue the charges.
Will the school present any evidence at the honor code violation hearing?
Yes. The school will get the chance to present evidence that they feel justifies punishing the student.
What should I present to fight the honor code violation?
The defense strategy is unique to the disciplinary violation and the evidence against the student. There is a lot of preparation that goes into a disciplinary hearing. I often start with obtaining copies of records, discuss potential witness statements and questioning, fight to include or exclude evidence, and even write opening and closing statements. A defense, or the student’s presentation, must be prepared.
Recommendations from an experienced college student defense lawyer
Hire an experienced lawyer immediately
The honor code violation investigation and hearing process is a time limited. An experienced college student defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a reduced punishment based on the situation.
Bring an experienced college student defense lawyer to the honor code violation hearing
Schools may be more agreeable to reducing a disciplinary sanction if a lawyer is present. An experienced education lawyer can help you craft the best defense possible, make sure that that the school follows its policies and procedures, and many times assist the student at the hearing.
Can you help all college students that need code of conduct defense?
Yes. I advise students all over the country facing code of conduct violations. By working together to craft the best defense possible, you will be given the greatest chance at success. Achieving positive results is my goal.
You get only one chance at success. Make it your best.
Richard Asselta is an award-winning lawyer for college students who offers student defense services to students throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of student disciplinary issues including all code of conduct violations. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your future. (855) 338-5299 Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.