The federal government orders all colleges and universities to independently address and investigate all sexual violence and sexual assault accusations involving students. According to Title IX, a federal civil rights law, colleges and universities must conduct disciplinary hearings on any and all sexual violence accusations. In addition, this law mandates that universities and colleges punish any students found who violate sexual consent policies.
If you have been accused of a sex crime at your college or university, it is urgent that you seek experienced legal counsel right away. Our team at The Hammer Law Firm, LLC is backed by ample experience and skills needed to protect your rights and future. We can provide representation for students attending the following schools:
- Washington University
- Saint Louis University
- University of Missouri
- Maryville University
- Webster University
Understanding Title IX Under Federal Law
This federal civil rights law forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in any activity or educational program that is funded by the federal government. For this reason, any private school or public state school that receives federal funding must comply with this law If proof determines a college or university has failed to comply, that school will be stripped of all federal funds.
Title IX compels universities and colleges to create systems to investigate reports of sexual violence, interview alleged witnesses, interrogate alleged suspects, collect necessary evidence, and subject accused students to disciplinary hearings. The consequences of those hearings can carry severe life-altering changes for accused students, such as expulsion from school and the order to carry a “sex offender” label.
Unfortunately, some accused students, who do not comprehend how to safeguard their rights, end up suffering from permanent scars left on their records, all of which may have been evaded had they hired an experienced Title IX attorney in St. Louis to defend their rights. For this reason, students accused of sexual violence or sexual assault should immediately contact legal representation right away.
Being accused of sexual misconduct at your college or university is a serious matter that can affect the rest of your life. If you are facing a Title IX investigation, you likely have countless questions and concerns. While we address some of them below, the best way to answer your inquiries is with a free consultation at our St. Louis office.
What is Title IX and who is it meant to protect?
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender. In addition to regulating opportunities like sports and financial assistance, Title IX prohibits conduct like sexual harassment and assault and requires educational organizations to investigate claims of misconduct. The law is designed to protect all students, employees, volunteers, and visitors at academic institutions, regardless of gender.
Any college or university that violates Title IX can be stripped of federal funding.
What are my rights if I have been accused of committing a Title IX offense?
Because the Title IX investigation occurs within your college or university, your rights should be outlined in your student handbook. As an example, students within the University of Missouri Systemare entitled to the following:
- Respectful treatment from university officials
- Access to campus support resources (unless they are suspended during the investigation)
- Having an advisor of their choice attend all meetings and proceedings
- Refusal to have an allegation resolved through certain university procedures or processes
- An opportunity to present potential witnesses and provide evidence
- Information regarding their allegations, school policies, and findings
- A chance to appeal
No matter where you attend school, an experienced Title IX attorney can help you understand your rights both inside and outside of your academic institution. Title IX allegations sometimes lead to a criminal investigation, so the sooner you retain a lawyer, the stronger your case(s) will be.
What’s the difference between a Title IX investigation and a criminal investigation?
A Title IX investigation is conducted by your college or university and a criminal investigation is carried out by local law enforcement. These investigations can happen concurrently and independently of one another. A student can be found “not guilty” of sexual assault in criminal court and still face disciplinary actions from their school, for instance, but those found “guilty” in legal proceedings will likely face Title IX consequences as well.
This is due to the lower burden of proof in Title IX investigations. In criminal court, the accused must be proved to be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but in civil trials and Title IX proceedings, the accuser’s claim must only be more than 50% likely to be true. This is known as a “preponderance of the evidence.”
While a Title IX investigation will not result in fines or jail time, the consequences can still be severe.
What are the consequences for a Title IX offense?
Colleges and universities not only carry out Title IX investigations, but also decide how those found liable for sexual misconduct will be punished. Sometimes, students are expelled, but other times, they are suspended or put on probation, and/or required to undergo sensitivity training or receive counseling.
The most serious implications for the accused include criminal investigations and marks against their permanent records and reputations. An allegation of sexual assault can follow you around for your entire life, so it is especially important to hire an attorney to clear your name.
Remember: each title IX case is different, and a lawyer can help you every step of the way.
If you, your son, or your daughter has been accused of sexual violence or sexual assault while attending a college, do not wait to retain the help you need. Call our St. Louis Title IX defense lawyers at The Hammer Law Firm, LLC now.
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