Hundreds of thousands of students attend colleges and universities throughout New Jersey. These students have left their homes in other states and in Jersey to attend college. For most, it's their first time away from home. For most, it's their first real experience of independence. For most, it's a time of experimenting and learning. Sometimes, however, life lessons are learned the hard way. College students run into legal problems on or off-campus. When they do, they face disciplinary proceedings.
Fortunately, most New Jersey colleges and universities allow a college student defense attorney to represent the student during disciplinary proceedings, including disciplinary hearings. This is a great benefit to students accused of wrongful or criminal activities because they have the advantage of a knowledgeable student defense attorney to uphold their rights and guide them through the process. Even where the college or university does not allow the presence of an attorney during the disciplinary hearings, consulting with a college student defense attorney is still to the student's benefit. The insight the lawyer can provide can go a long way with how the student represents him or herself during the hearing.
Regardless if an attorney is permitted or not to represent the student during the disciplinary hearings, one thing is certain: these matters should be taken very seriously by the student and/or his or her parents. The student's future may be dependent in part on the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding.
What are disciplinary proceedings in New Jersey?
Each college and university has a separate code of conduct. This code defines and establishes standards, policies, and procedures meant to nurture positive student development and an overall safe and secure campus environment. The code also outlines what is expected in terms of student behavior while on and -- sometimes -- off the campus. Policies can involve things like the following but are not limited to the following:
- Drug and alcohol use
- Sexual harassment
- Violent or threatening behavior
- Academic integrity.
When a student is accused of a disciplinary violation, academic misconduct, or another violation of any other policy established by the school or law established by the State of New Jersey or the U.S. government, he or she may face disciplinary action. Disciplinary action can involve:
- Meetings with professors, administrators, and other college or university staff – these are held to discuss one-on-one the student's alleged behavior and oftentimes it is conducted in the presence of the student's parents or guardians;
- Hearings – these hearings may be informal or formal and may be conducted by a school administrator or may be presented before a Disciplinary Board, the latter of which will determine the outcome of the student's case;
- Title IX proceedings – these proceedings are very serious and are invoked if the alleged behavior involves sexual misconduct of any kind;
- Conduct proceedings – these proceedings are the process through which the student must endure until a final outcome has been revealed.
When a school conducts disciplinary proceedings, it must do so within the guidelines it has established for itself and -- when relevant -- in accordance with guidelines established by the New Jersey Department of Education and school discipline laws and regulations established by the United States.
To note, too, if the alleged behavior is criminal, you can also face criminal proceedings, which can be even more traumatic to a student.
Why are New Jersey college and university disciplinary proceedings serious matters?
Disciplinary action is not a joke. It can have a serious impact on a student's academic and professional future. The potential consequences include punishment or sanctions in the form of:
- Warning – oral or written and will outline what will happen if the alleged behavior is continued or repeated;
- Reprimand – a formal notice that the alleged behavior is unacceptable and to continue will result in serious consequences;
- Probation – a period of time the student must be on his or her best behavior and not violate any other rule, requirement, or regulation or else face disciplinary action like suspension;
- Restitution – a payment to the school or victim to repair any damaged or stolen property;
- Interim Suspension – a period of time the student cannot be on campus -- usually while the disciplinary proceedings are pending;
- Suspension – a period of time (e.g., 10 days) the student must leave the campus – it is usually conditional based on the student's adherence to all rules, regulations, and requirements;
- Expulsion or Dismissal – the permanent termination of the student's enrollment at the school – the student will no longer be allowed on campus and the student's academic transcript will forever be emblazoned with the expulsion.
Anyone of these sanctions can set the student back, but of course, expulsion is the most extreme. A college defense attorney can help the student avoid disciplinary action or can help make sure the student gets the best outcome possible given the nature of the allegations, the circumstances of the incident, and the student's reputation, history, and readiness to make things right.
When is it most important to consult with a college student defense attorney in New Jersey?
Most colleges and universities in New Jersey will commence disciplinary proceedings within days of the alleged conduct or incident. Students and their parents, therefore, have little time to prepare themselves. It happens so fast they also don't have the time to realize the seriousness of the process before they take steps to avoid an unfavorable outcome. That's why it is important to consult with a college student defense attorney in New Jersey as soon as the student knows he or she may have conducted him or herself in a way that violates the school's code of conduct.
The sooner you reach out to an attorney, the sooner you will be able to grasp the severity of the situation and to take steps to avoid the kind of consequences that can be detrimental to your or your child's future.
Who should you contact if you or your child face disciplinary action from a New Jersey college or university?
For our youth and aspiring professionals, a strong, comprehensive college defense attorney can help make sure their futures are secure and free from the challenges that a school disciplinary action may present. If you or your child face disciplinary action from a New Jersey college or university, Joseph D. Lento and his team and strongly influence the outcome of the hearings or appeals. He has extensive experience representing students facing code of conduct disciplinary violations, Title IX sexual misconduct offenses, and academic misconduct charges.
But remember: there's no time to waste. The school is already taking steps against you or your child. An honest mistake or a misunderstanding can turn into disciplinary action that could jeopardize your or your child's future. Contact Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686!