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How An Arrest Can Affect Your Time in College

Attending college can sometimes feel odd for students. Most of them are legal adults, yet many schools still try to restrict their behavior. Students can be punished for breaking rules as if they were high schoolers.

Your personal life often has no bearing on your academic abilities, but your school may have conduct restrictions you must obey. These expectations can extend into your legal life as well.

An Arrest Could Remove You from Your School

Many colleges will expel students who are arrested, regardless of the crime. Often, they execute this expulsion before the student is properly tried or sentenced for the crime.

Ultimately, a school is not subject to the same standards as the criminal justice system. In a criminal courtroom, a jury must be 100% certain to find you guilty.

A school’s guilty standards can have a much wider range. It may use the “preponderance of evidence” model, where it must be only 50% certain of your guilt to expel you. Under this standard, the arrest alone could be grounds for your expulsion.

An Arrest May Cause On-Campus Discipline

Most schools have at least some conduct standards for their students. These rules often prohibit extreme behaviors such as violence, sexual assault, hazing, and so on.

Many schools, even widely respected ones, still have a religious foundation. These institutions may prohibit behaviors that many don’t find offensive. They can ban alcohol use of any kind, smoking, all sexual activity between students, and so on.

Breaking conduct rules may not automatically lead to expulsion, but they could result in other disciplinary actions. The same may be true for an arrest, whether it leads to a conviction or not.

Disciplinary actions can include:

  • Losing campus privileges
  • Ordering community service hours
  • Ordering you to do volunteer work for the campus

Disciplinary Hearings at Colleges

Most schools at least allow for a review of the accusations against you before taking action. This generally happens at a disciplinary hearing. You can think of these as miniature courtroom trials. The school will present its evidence against you, and you are allowed to respond to the allegations.

These hearings often rely on a student’s unpreparedness. The school assumes that you will come into the hearing unprepared and emotional, giving them the advantage. This will make it easier to discipline you or kick you out if that’s what the school wants.

You can, however, meet with an attorney and prepare a defense. Your lawyer can scrutinize the school’s discipline policy. They can help you gather evidence and documentation. A good attorney can even coach you on how to respond to certain questions or allegations. Some schools may even allow you to bring an attorney along to represent you at your hearing.

Being prepared may create the opposite of what your accusers want. They hope to throw you off, but once they see how ready you are, they are the ones left unprepared. Not expecting to see such a solid defense coming from a student, they may have no choice but to back down and let the matter go.

If you need help preparing for a college disciplinary hearing, reach out to our firm today. You can call us at (803) 938-4952 or contact us online.