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Sexual Assault

What do you do if you are a college student accused of sexual assault?

By May 20, 2024May 29th, 2024No Comments

Navigating the aftermath of an alleged sexual assault on a college campus is a daunting and complex process. Not only are you faced with the possibility of criminal charges from local law enforcement, but you also have to contend with disciplinary proceedings at the university level. 

Understanding the steps involved and seeking appropriate legal representation is crucial in protecting your rights and ensuring a fair process. An experienced student defense attorney can explain your next steps and options and make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

In this blog, the student defense lawyers at DC Student Defense in Washington, DC explain the legal complexities for students who are accused of sexual assault and provide resources to help them navigate potential charges.

If I’m accused of sexual assault as a Washington, DC student, what is my first step?

If the alleged sexual assault occurred on a college campus, you will likely be facing disciplinary proceedings at the university level. These are separate from any criminal charges you might be facing from local law enforcement.

This will start with a letter or notice from the school that you have potentially violated a specific student conduct code.

After you read the letter or notice from the school, the next step should be contacting a college student criminal defense attorney. These attorneys have experience in handling cases involving campus-related offenses and can provide guidance and support throughout the proceedings.

College campuses are under a lot of pressure to respond quickly and assertively to accusations of sexual assault, and without an attorney working on your behalf, you could end up with a harsh punishment without due process.

Consequences of campus sexual assault for college students

If you go through the disciplinary and criminal proceedings and are found guilty of campus sexual assault, you could face the following:

  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Prosecution
  • Jail Time
  • Registration as a sex offender

It’s very important that you don’t have any communication with your accuser — even if you are innocent and want to clear your name. It is natural to want to defend yourself if you are innocent or apologize for any miscommunication or wrongdoing on your part, but you cannot do either of those things. Communication is not limited to phone calls or knocking on their front door. It also includes text messages and messaging on social media.

Given the stakes involved, it’s imperative to approach the situation with the utmost caution and seek guidance from an experienced student defense attorney without delay.

What role does Title IX play in campus sexual assault cases?

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that covers rape, harassment and assault on campus under the umbrella of discrimination. Students have been successful in suing colleges and universities for Title IX violations by proving that the schools were indifferent or negligent in allowing the harassment to occur.

For example, The University of Memphis faced a lawsuit alleging that it permitted a student accused of sexually assaulting another student to continue staying on campus despite formal charges against him. A judge initially supported the suing student, suggesting that the university’s response might be considered negligent. The judge allowed the case to proceed, but in late 2021, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Title IX proceedings are separate from code of conduct violations and any other potential criminal charges from law enforcement. Title IX proceedings can impose varying rulings, from restraining orders to even suspension from campus before you are charged with a crime or disciplined for code of conduct violations.

That’s why it’s imperative that you contact an experienced college student criminal defense attorney to help with your case and navigate the tangled web of university disciplinary hearings, Title IX proceedings and criminal cases.

Student Criminal Defense Attorneys in Washington, DC

If you or someone you love is accused of sexual assault on campus, don’t jeopardize their future by hesitating to call a defense attorney. Contact DC Student Defense today.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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