If you have been accused of committing an academic sexual assault under Title IX, you need a Title IX Defense Attorney. Sexual misconduct allegations in college are serious, and could potentially lead to a Title IX investigation and disciplinary process. A Title IX action may result in a suspension or expulsion, permanent damage to your academic record, and potential criminal charges. When your future and reputation are on the line, it is crucial to have proper legal representation.
Located in West Palm Beach, Herman Law, P.A. provides advice and guidance to college and university students facing Title IX proceedings throughout the state of Florida. Although we believe in the fundamental principle of the U.S. criminal justice system — the presumption of innocence — we also know that students accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX have very few due process rights. When you become our client, we will help you navigate the process, work to preserve your educational future, and help you avoid criminal liability.
What is Title IX?
The Education Amendments Act of 1972 applies to all schools that receive federal funding, including elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. Title IX of the Act is generally designed to eliminate sex discrimination from the educational system by holding in part that:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Title IX also provides powerful legal recourse to victims of sexual misconduct and assault in a college or university. If a student accuses another student of a sex crime, the school is required to initiate a Title IX action.
While students accused of sexual misconduct have the right to a fair hearing, the potential of losing federal funding often forces college and university officials to implement policies and procedures that lead to Title IX disciplinary proceedings with a predetermined outcome. The best way to protect your rights, and your future, is to consult the Title IX defense attorneys at Herman Law, P.A.
What Occurs in a Title IX Action In Florida?
In the event of a sexual misconduct allegation, the school must initiate a Title IX administrative proceeding to assess the validity of their accusation, and determine whether or not to take disciplinary action. Such action may include:
- Restricting access to certain campus areas
- Withholding transcripts and/or degrees
- Issuing a no-contact order with other students
Although the Title IX process is supposed to be fair to the accused student, it is not the same as a criminal proceeding in which guilt must be determined beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, every allegation must be investigated, regardless of how believable it may be. In the end, the school can take disciplinary action based solely on a preponderance of evidence, or 50.1 percent.
Moreover, the accused student does not have the same due process rights one would expect in a criminal proceeding. In particular:
- The school is permitted to limit the presentation of exculpatory evidence
- Cross-examination of the alleged victim is discouraged
- Hearings or appeals are not required
In addition, many schools prohibit criminal defense attorneys from directly participating in the process. While the accused student has the right to be represented by an advisor, this individual may not speak on the student’s behalf.
Finally, the determination as to whether or not the student will be disciplined may be made by a single administrator, or a Title IX “specialist.” While these individuals may be well-versed in Title IX, they are not required to act in the best interests of the accused student. Instead, the process is tilted toward believing the victim — and preventing the school from losing federal funding.
It goes without saying that sexual assault is a serious criminal offense, and all students have a right to a school environment free from sex discrimination and harassment. Nonetheless, the limitations of the Title IX process mean that the odds are stacked against students facing allegations of sexual misconduct. This is why it is critically important to speak with an experienced Title IX defense attorney.
How Herman Law, P.A. Can Help with Your Title IX Defense
Despite the fact that criminal defense attorneys are often barred from participating in the process, our experienced Title IX lawyers can help you level the playing field. We will leverage our skills and experience to assist you with drafting a written response, prepare you for a hearing, and, if possible, negotiate with school administrators to resolve your case in a more favorable manner.
In the event that the Title IX proceeding results in disciplinary action, you may face criminal charges, and the results of the investigation could weigh heavily against you in court. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling sex crimes and will provide you with aggressive legal representation.
Our legal team will conduct an extensive investigation, identify and interview witnesses, and seek out evidence of your innocence. We will also file a Motion to Suppress any information and materials prosecutors glean from the Title IX action. Above all, we will always put your best interests first, and work tirelessly to protect your rights and secure your freedom.
Being accused of sexual misconduct in a college or university and facing a Title IX action is an overwhelming experience. Remember, you are not alone. Contact Herman Law, P.A. today to learn how we can help.