Over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts At Trial | Over 2,000 Dismissals
* Statistics Verified by County Clerk of Court Documents
When a college student or graduate student is accused of a crime, the student must worry about more than just the criminal prosecution. Even when the criminal charges are ultimately dropped or dismissed, students at Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU) may be subjected to disciplinary proceedings for the alleged misconduct.
Disciplinary proceedings can result from non-criminal offenses, such as hazing, to misdemeanor offenses such as DUI, underage possession of alcohol, or possession of marijuana or other drugs. More serious allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual battery (often called sexual assault), are surprisingly common on the college campus.
The attorney can help the student resolve the case before a hearing. In some cases, at the disciplinary hearing, the attorney can help the student present exculpatory evidence and preserve objections to evidence that should not be considered. If objections are properly preserved, and the student’s rights to due process are protected, the student has the best chance of obtaining the most desirable outcome.
After the disciplinary hearing, an attorney for the college student at FSU or FAMU can appeal a final decision imposing disciplinary sanctions for the violation of the Student Code of Conduct by filing a petition for writ of certiorari. The writ usually involves a showing that the student’s due process rights were violated at the formal disciplinary hearing for several reasons, including the fact that evidence introduced at the hearing was hearsay.
For decisions made at Florida Statute University (FSU) or Florida A&M University (FAMU), the final decision is reviewable by certiorari in the appropriate circuit court in Leon County, FL.
At the Pumphrey Law, we work hard to protect college students from a permanent disciplinary record. Disciplinary proceedings can result in suspension or expulsion from their current school. The record can prevent them from attending another college or graduate level program, and even follow them into a career in the health care profession, the legal profession, local or state government, the military or law enforcement.
Call (850) 681-7777 to speak with an attorney about protecting the student’s disciplinary record. We strive to help the student obtain a positive result to protect their future education and career opportunities.
Depending on the rules of the college or university, parents may or may not be notified of the misconduct or the disciplinary hearing. Students often receive the notice to their e-mail account and certified mail. When any criminal accusation is made, the student must be careful to update his contact information and respond to any correspondence from the college or university.
Although area colleges seek to limit the role an attorney can play during the hearing, the attorney is permitted to:
In most cases, the goal of the hearing is for the hearing officer to return a finding of “not responsible” for any misconduct. If an adverse ruling results from the disciplinary hearing, the attorney can help the college student prepare an appeal to the Dean or other college or university officials.
Most importantly, if a criminal prosecution will result from the misconduct, the attorney can protect the college student against make any statements that might incriminate the student. Even students who are completely innocent of the criminal accusation or accusation of misconduct must also be aware that statements made during the proceeding could later be used against them to prove one or more elements of the offense.
In most cases, the student should work with the attorney to present his side of the story during the disciplinary hearing. Obtaining representation for the disciplinary hearing is often just as important as obtaining representation for the criminal proceeding.
During the disciplinary hearing, the college or university student should not be forced to present testimony which would tend to incriminate the student in any criminal proceeding. A fine line exists between presenting a defense and the right against self-incrimination, however, because the college or university is not required to postpone the proceedings pending the outcome of any criminal proceeding.
A disciplinary penalty or sanction imposed under the educational institution’s code of conduct is in addition to any penalty imposed by the courts for the criminal system. Double jeopardy does not protect the students against sanctions by the university and additional sanctions in the criminal courts.
An attorney acting as the student’s advisor can help the student through the process allowing the student to present a highly effective defense while still being aware of the danger of self-incrimination and the impact on the criminal proceeding.
Each college or university has a process after an accusation of misconduct has been made against a student. At Florida State University (FSU) the process begins with a charge letter. The charge letter notifies the student of the alleged violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Within five (5) days of receiving the charge letter, the student must call FSU’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to set up an appointment for an information session.
Then an informal session is scheduled. The informal session is a meeting with a representative from FSU’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. During the meeting, the official will explain the student’s rights, discuss hearing option, and answer any questions.
A formal hearing, informal hearing or organizational hearing is scheduled. The student is allowed to have an advisor who can be an attorney. The student is allowed to call witnesses. After the hearing, a decision is rendered. If the student is found responsible for misconduct, certain sanctions can be imposed. The student can appeal the result of the formal or informal disciplinary hearing.
The disciplinary proceeding can even be based on law violations that occur off campus and do not involve any college or university function or activity. Depending on the severity of the violation and the result of the disciplinary hearing, the student can receive one of the following punishments or penalties:
The student should read all information provided by the college or university about the disciplinary hearing. No college student should rely on any of the general information contained on this website because the rules vary significantly from one educational institution to another.
Generally, restrictions can include but are not limited to the following:
Although the college or university may tell you that you do not have to report the results of the disciplinary hearing, law school, in particular, ask extremely broad questions which would require disclosure of even information not contained the student’s permanent disciplinary record. Consider a typical question on a law school application:
Have you ever been the subject of disciplinary proceedings, or been warned, placed on probation, or suspended for academic, nonacademic, or any other reasons by any of the colleges, universities, graduate schools, or professional schools you have attended, or are any such proceedings pending?
Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a crime, including sealed or expunged offenses, other than a minor traffic violation, or are charges pending?
The failure to disclose the fact that a disciplinary proceeding occurred could be considered misconduct which could result in expulsion from law school, refusal of an application to take the bar exam or even subsequent disbarment.
For more information contact:
Florida State University
The Dean of Students Department
Student Rights & Responsibilities
University Center A, Suite 4117
Tallahassee, FL 32306
Phone Number: 850-644-5136
Florida A&M University
Department of Judicial Affairs
1628 S Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
101 Student Union
Tallahassee, Florida 32307
When a criminal accusation is made against a graduate or college student, obtaining experienced representation may provide important protections. At the Pumphrey Law, our attorneys work hard to protect college students from a permanent disciplinary record which can result in their suspension or expulsion from area colleges or universities including Florida State University (FSU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU).
Call (850) 681-7777 for a free, confidential consultation and to speak directly with a criminal defense attorney about protecting the student’s disciplinary record. We strive to help the student obtain a favorable result so that future educational and career opportunities are not adversely impacted.
This article was last updated on October 22, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.
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