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FSU College Student Defense Attorney

FSU Students

FSU College Student Defense Attorney

When a college student at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, FL, is charged with a crime, the stakes are high. Not only can the student face criminal charges in court, but the university may also initiate disciplinary action against the student. The criminal case and disciplinary action can both have long-lasting consequences on the student’s future and educational opportunities.

A criminal conviction can result in a defendant being sentenced to pay fines or face incarceration. Additionally, the outcome of a university disciplinary hearing can lead to repercussions from the school including suspension, removal from campus housing, or even a full expulsion from the education program.

It is imperative that a student facing criminal allegations consults with an FSU student defense attorney in Tallahassee. Retaining quality legal representation can help provide insight into the allegations against you or your child and help strategize the options moving forward.

FSU College Students – What to Know as a Student on Campus

Whether you are a new or returning student at Florida State University, it’s imperative that you have a full understanding of your rights after being accused of violating the state or university laws. College is an exciting time in a young person’s career. However, bad things can still occur even during the most stimulating years of your life. Parties, sporting events, and constant interactions with new people can sometimes lead to unfortunate events. Being aware of FSU’s rules, and what happens if these rules are violated, is essential to your time as a student.

The FSU Student Conduct Code

FSU’s Student Conduct Code goes over specific terms when addressing students accused of violating any of the rules on-campus. The term “on-campus” refers to all buildings, land, facilities, and other property in the possession of or owned, used or controlled by FSU. The term “student” refers to any individual meeting one of the four following requirements: 

  1. Admitted – The student is admitted to FSU and is present on campus for the purpose of participating in any course, program, or activity leading to enrollment. 
  2. Enrolled– The student is enrolled in any credit-bearing course or program offered by FSU at the time the alleged violation(s) occurred. 
  3. Active Student – The student is enrolled and continues association with FSU to complete a course or program in which the student was enrolled. “Active” status is enforced and determined by the Registrar’s Office. 
  4. Dual Enrollment – The student is enrolled in credit-bearing courses on a dual-enrollment basis.

Under the Student Conduct Code at FSU, the following acts are prohibited and can result in disciplinary action from the university:

Essentially, an FSU student who is accused of violating the Code of Conduct can face consequences through a disciplinary hearing. An FSU student accused of committing a criminal offense can face consequences through the university as well as from law enforcement.

Common Charges Against FSU College Students

When an undergraduate or graduate student at FSU is accused of violating Florida law or is told that disciplinary action will be brought against them for an alleged offense, they should immediately contact an attorney.

Pumphrey Law Firm proudly represents FSU students in need of criminal defense. The following provides a list of the most common charges brought against university students in Tallahassee:

Depending on the type of charge you are being accused of and the surrounding circumstances, there could be a lengthy list of penalties that come with a conviction. The best way to fight against a criminal charge is by hiring an experienced defense attorney to represent you and challenge to have the charges lessened and dismissed.  

Student Rights

As an FSU student, thanks to a recent bill signed into law by Governor DeSantis, you are now entitled to stronger due process rights than before. These rights have an important impact during the university’s disciplinary hearing process when determining if any violations occurred.

Under the amended Florida Statute Section 1006.60, FSU students who are accused of violating the law or code of conduct are required to have the following rights:

  1. The right to timely Written Notice – Within a timely notice, FSU must provide the following in a written notice:
    • Allegations investigated;
    • Citation to the specific provision of the code of conduct at issue;
    • Process used in determining whether a violation occurred;
    • Any associated rights of the student or student organization; and
    • Date, time, and location of the disciplinary proceeding.

The notice must be delivered at least 7 business days before the disciplinary proceeding for it to be considered timely. Additionally, the student or student organization must receive the following at least 5 business days before the disciplinary proceeding:

  • A list of all known witnesses who have provided, or will provide, information against them; and
  • All known information relating to the allegation, including both inculpatory and exculpatory information.
  1. The right to a presumption that no violation occurred – FSU carries the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a violation took place. Important: Preponderance of the evidenceis normally met when the party carrying the burden convinces the fact finder that there is a greater than 50% chance that their claim is true;
  2. The right to an impartial hearing officer;
  3. The right against self-incrimination and to remain silent;
  4. The right to present relevant information and question witnesses;
  5. The right to an advisor or advocate, who may not serve in any other role;
  6. The right to have an advisor, advocate, or legal representative (like an attorney) at the student’s or student organization’s own expense throughout formal and informal proceedings;
  7. The right to appeal the final decision of the hearing officer, or any committee or panel;
  8. The right to an accurate and complete record of every proceeding; and
  9. And the right to be notified through the code of conduct of the institution’s time limit for charging them with violations, and the circumstances under which the time limit may be extended or waived.

Due to the amendments to Fla. Stat. § 1006.60, FSU revised their Student Code of Conduct to comply with the bill after it was enacted. While FSU provides all the minimum requirements of the bill, they also grant students a few additional rights. Namely, the right for hearings to be conducted in private and how some of the Due Process rights are adjudicated.

Contact a Tallahassee defense attorney if you have questions regarding your due process rights as an FSU student.

Disciplinary Hearings for Alleged Violations of FSU Students

According to the Florida Bar, a disciplinary hearing is the process for universities to determine whether a student has violated the school’s code of conduct.

Disciplinary hearings can involve an accusation of wrongdoing even if no arrest was made. FSU’s student conduct proceedings can also occur prior to, alongside with, or following criminal or civil proceedings. At FSU, disciplinary hearings can involve any of the following:

  • Criminal charges regardless of whether the offense occurred on-campus or off-campus;
  • Non-criminal violations of the student code;
  • Violations of the academic honor code; or
  • Violations of residence hall regulations.

When a student is alleged to have committed a violation, the first step is receiving a written notice of the student conduct code (SCC) charges they are being accused of. This is usually based off a written report submitted through a secure University reporting function or from a police report. The accused student will then be given the opportunity to attend an informal hearing to go over the process, be read their rights, and confirm how the case will be heard. This is an important step that an FSU defense attorney can help with. During the informal hearing, the student and their attorney can view the initial reports and any evidence that has been gathered.

When a student attends the formal hearing, the process typically goes as follows:

  1. Presentation of formal charges;
  2. Opening statements given by the university and the accused student;
  3. Presentation of evidence and witnesses from the university;
  4. Presentation of evidence and witnesses by the accused student;
  5. Questions from the hearing body for the accused student; and
  6. Closing statements.

Important: Any report involving allegations of sexual misconduct will be reported to the appropriate Title IX authority for investigation. To find out more about Title IX charges, refer to our informative page here.

Outcome of the Proceedings

Under Florida Statute Section 1006.60, Florida College System institutions are required to adopt appropriate penalties for violations of rules or regulations. The disciplinary action taken against a student at Florida State University (FSU) can result in one or a combination of the following:

  • Reprimand (written or verbal);
  • Restitution;
  • Suspension;
  • Cancellation;
  • Revocation of the registration of a student organization;
  • Restricted use of campus facilities; or
  • Removal from campus facilities.

In some cases, the student disciplinary hearing can result in additional penalties, including:

  • Community Service Hours – Completion of tasks under the supervision of a University department or outside agency;
  • Counseling Assessment – Assessment at a counseling center for alcohol/drug dependence, general mental health, or other counseling issues;
  • Disciplinary Probation – During this probation, any further violation of the Student Conduct Code will place your status with the University in jeopardy. If you are found “responsible” for another violation of the Code during the period of Disciplinary Probation, serious consideration will be given to imposing an outcome of Suspension or Expulsion from the University;
  • Suspension – Separation from the university for a specified period, not to exceed two years. This may include restricted access to campus and/or other specified activities;
  • Expulsion – Separation from the University without the possibility of readmission. This may include restricted access to campus and/or other specified activities;
  • Change in University Housing assignment;
  • Restrictions on contact with specified people;
  • Exclusion (either temporary or permanent) from University Housing; and/or
  • Withholding of diplomas, transcripts, or other records.

To find out more about what students should know going into a student conduct hearing, refer to our page here. To read more about the sanctions for a student code of conduct violation, refer to our page here.

Call (850) 681-7777 to speak with an FSU student defense attorney at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys understand how stressful and time-consuming disciplinary hearings are for both the accused student and their parents. With our legal guidance, we can help with the written statements, representation during the hearings, and any written requests for an appeal following the hearing.

Staying Safe on Campus

FSU students who have witnessed or been involved in a crime should reach out to an attorney for legal guidance. However, before doing that, it’s important to know who you can immediately contact on campus. Knowing who can help you in the worst-case scenarios on a college campus is vital in keeping students safe.

Below is a list of FSU’s campus resources that are there to assist you in a time of need:

  • FSU POLICE – Students can contact (850) 644-1234 to reach the campus police. It is a non-confidential line if you are worried about anonymity.
  • FSU Victim Advocate Program – The victim advocate program can be reached at (850) 644-7161 24/7, including holidays. You can also text them at (850)756-4320.
  • University Counseling Center – Students can call (850) 644-TALK (8255) and reach a 24-hour hotline, and the university offers evaluations for students on Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD).  
  • Refuge House (Off-Campus Resource) – The number for the refugee house is (850) 681-2111.
  • Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness – SMART (Students Making Alcohol and Other Drug Responsibility Theirs) presents the legal and personal consequences of substance abuse and can be reached at (850) 644-8871.

FSU also provides information on Crime Prevention Resources. This includes, but is not limited to Active Shooter Training, Campus Safety and Fire Report, Rape Aggression Defense Training, and Speak Up and Stand Out. For additional contact information, check out FSU’s Know More page on their website.

Additional Resources

  • Florida State University Student Conduct Code
    The code appears in State of Florida Administrative Code FSU-ER15-3. The code outlines the rights, offenses, procedures, and policies that are upheld by FSU’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
  • FSU Student Conduct Hearings Have Own Set of Rules
    Read a news article from the Tallahassee Democrat about Florida State University’s system for determining whether a student has violated its code of conduct which is very different from what defendants in criminal cases encounter in the courtroom. The article explains why the standard of proof is lower and why the accused doesn’t always get to face the accuser during cross-examination.
  • Florida State University Housing Contract– this page contains the Housing Contract for FSU as well as the rules and expectations of on-campus residents.

Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney for FSU College Students

College is supposed to be some of the best four years of your life, yet sometimes the party gets out of hand. If you get caught while underage drinking in a dorm, or out at Potbelly’s or another popular student bar on Macomb Street, you can face serious penalties.

Any violation, whether on or off-campus, is usually prosecuted by the Dean of Students under the FSU Student Conduct Code. This can result in both legal and academic implications. There is the potential of missing classes and failing, losing Bright Futures scholarships, or even expulsion. Read more about College Student Criminal Defense and the types of charges students typically face. After going through the long process of applying to schools, paying tuition, and even making it across campus, don’t throw it all away due to one mistake or false allegation.

If you are a student or the parent of an FSU student facing a criminal charge or violation of the student conduct code, contact an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Students need legal representation that can protect them at every stage of the case. Whether you need help during a student conduct code violation hearing  or to prepare for a criminal trial, Pumphrey Law Firm is here to help. Contact us at (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Let us put our experience to work for you.


Page Updated February 6, 2024

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