Student Conduct Hearings

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student conduct hearing

Although schools may slightly differ, generally the following guidelines and procedures apply in the context of handling student conduct violations in a university setting.

Being charged and convicted of a student conduct violation can very much change the course of your future and career path. While student conduct matters will not always require the involvement of law enforcement and prosecutors, it’s a possibility that they could be brought in and obtain evidence and statements that could be detrimental to you. Because of this, it’s extremely important to obtain adequate representation from the beginning. If there are possible criminal implications, there may be a lot more on the line than just your academic status.

What needs to be proved in a student violation hearing vs. Criminal Proceeding

All the panel has to show is that the information reviewed as a whole, indicates that responsibility for the charged violations is more probable than not. Note that the bar they need to clear to punish you is not actually very high- unlike in a criminal court where a prosecutor has to show you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Access to Attorney

Both you and the accuser have the right to an attorney of their choosing. An attorney will not be appointed to you by the school and will not be provided free of charge. Your attorney may accompany you to meetings and proceedings during the investigatory and/or resolution process to advise and counsel you. While you must answer questions and your attorney cannot answer for you directly, your attorney can guide and coach you through the process to ensure the best outcome.

Investigation Process

Once accused, you typically have 5 business days to respond in writing to the notice with an admission or denial of the allegations, a written statement of the facts, the names and contact information of any witnesses and documents in support of the student’s position. It’s essential that a student seek guidance quickly to provide the correct responses to these accusations.

If at any point the investigator determines there is insufficient evidence to support a charge or to warrant further consideration of discipline, then the complaint will be dismissed. Bixon Law can utilize this to help dismiss your charges before matters get too serious.

The investigation will consist of interviews of you, the accuser, and possible witnesses. The investigator will retain written notes and/or recorded statements from each interview. We will guide you through the process of answering these tough questions that could be essential to the school’s case against you.

Charges or Dismissal

Based on a review of the report and an initial investigation, the Dean of Students will determine whether to initiate charges or to dismiss a case if there is insufficient support for the claim. If we can discredit their case at this point, the charges will be dismissed without the need for a hearing.

Administrative Conference

The student will be required to attend an Administrative Conference with the Dean of Students within 5 business days from the date of the charge letter. If the student fails to schedule or attend the required Administrative Conference, the case may proceed in the student’s absence, including making an administrative decision about the student’s responsibility for the alleged Code violations. At the Administrative Conference, you will choose one of the resolution options indicated below.

Resolution Options

Mediation: Parties will attempt to develop an agreement to settle the case. Both parties must agree to this option.

Restorative Justice: A student who accepts responsibility may elect to have the matter informally resolved through a restorative justice process in the office of the Dean of Students. (Example: community service)

Administrative Resolution: The student may choose to have the case resolved directly with administration without needing a formal hearing. This involves you being told of what you have been found responsible for, along with the steps needed to satisfy any sanctions.

Formal Hearing: The student may choose to have the case resolved through a formal hearing before a panel.

What to expect in a Formal Hearing

When a hearing panel is selected as a student’s hearing route, a panel will review all the information presented and will respond to alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.  The formal hearing is in many ways similar to a criminal trial. Both parties will have the right to present witnesses and evidence at the hearing. The opposing party will have the right to examine you and cross examine any witnesses you bring. Because the proceeding officer has so many tools at their disposal, your best tool is having an attorney help you navigate through this critical process. It is worth knowing that any evidence or statements they obtain from you at any point in the student conduct investigation, can be used against you. Because of this, it is important to hire an attorney early on.

Potential Discipline for a Confirmed Violation

A confirmed violation could result in serious consequences. These consequences include dismissal from dorms, probation, community service, suspension, or expulsion.

Contact Bixon Law Today

If you have been charged with student misconduct, give Bixon Law a call today to speak to one of our experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyers. We will vigorously defend your legal rights and advocate on your behalf to have your case dismissed or the charges against you reduced. As experienced trial attorneys, we are also not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. We are lawyers who are committed to helping people in difficult situations and we invite you to call us at (404) 551-5684 for a free consultation today.