The college or university disciplinary process can be scary for students to go through. Students could face suspension or expulsion. Most colleges allow students to seek the assistance of an attorney, but what type of attorney should a student choose?
The college disciplinary process is very unique. Although it can be similar to a court hearing or trial, it is not. There are different rules, different processes and different standards of proof. Sometimes, students will hire a criminal defense attorney to help them with a disciplinary hearing. Although these attorneys may be very skilled in a criminal court, that does not necessarily mean that they understand the college process. Here are three reasons why you want to hire an attorney who understands the school disciplinary process.
The attorney’s role in a college disciplinary process is different than an attorney arguing for their client in court. Different rules apply. I once helped a student with their appeal after they lost a hearing where the student hired a criminal defense attorney. The attorney did not understand the rules and was removed from the hearing.
Rules of court do not apply to disciplinary hearings. Instead, the rules of the university or basic due process in educational settings apply. To be effective, an attorney must be familiar with those rules and more importantly, how they operate. Likewise, in most cases, the standard of proof is different. In a criminal case that standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In the majority of school disciplinary actions, the standard is only “preponderance of the evidence,” a much lower standard.
Most disciplinary hearings are conducted by a committee or panel. These are not juries and what plays in front of a jury does not necessarily work before these committees or panels. Only attorneys with significant college disciplinary experience understands what works, and more importantly, what does not work before these types of panels.
Yes. I assist students all over the United States defend against cheating, plagiarism, and other honor code and disciplinary violations. My expertise in the college disciplinary process gives each student the best chance for success.
Richard Asselta is a student defense lawyer who fights for students facing academic integrity and honor code violations throughout the United States.
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