As high school graduates head to campuses around the country for their first year of college, they need to be aware not only of the excitement that lies ahead but also of the risks. The fall semester of freshman year is a time when many allegations of sexual assault occur. Students are living on their own for the first time. They are often drinking alcohol, and they often lack the experience necessary to engage in good communication around sexual encounters. They also may not realize that many colleges and universities define consent very differently from the way the term is commonly understood. Most schools have adopted multiple, overlapping, and confusing policies that define “sexual assault,” “sexual harassment,” and other code violations in ways that are not intuitive and that reach far beyond most people’s understanding of these terms.
Some of these students, brand-new to campus, will find themselves facing allegations of sexual misconduct. This is often a bewildering experience, and many students do not know where to turn. They are afraid to talk to their parents. They believe that if they didn’t do anything wrong, everything will turn out okay, and they try to handle the situation on their own. When accused by a partner, they often reflexively apologize due to the understandable human impulse to make the other person feel heard and to help them feel better. These apologies are then often used as admissions of guilt in the campus conduct process that follows.
This is a serious mistake. A finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct, even if it’s “just” a campus case with no criminal charges, can have serious lifelong consequences. If you find yourself facing an accusation of sexual misconduct, you need help navigating the process. Fortunately, federal law requires colleges and universities to allow students to have an advisor of their choice – including an attorney – present at every stage of a campus sexual misconduct proceeding. If your school notifies you of an allegation of sexual misconduct against you, the best thing you can do is to contact an attorney right away.
Contact our experienced firm
The attorneys at Allen Harris serve as advisors to accused students across the country, and we have the knowledge and experience to help ensure you get the fairest possible process. If you need a strong advocate on your side, contact us today.