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Understanding college disciplinary hearings in Maryland

Colleges and universities have honor codes that prohibit many types of behavior, including underage drinking, drug use and certain types of sexual behavior, such as rape, inappropriate touching and nonconsensual sexual contact.

Have you been accused of sexual misconduct or another behavior and are now facing college disciplinary actions? Are you the parent of a student about to attend a disciplinary hearing? If so, it's natural to have numerous questions regarding what is going to take place during the hearing, as well as the resulting discipline that could occur afterward. Because these situations could become tricky, it's recommended that students obtain a lawyer before the date of their hearing.

What occurs during the hearing

Often, college discipline hearings are informal and take place in a university conference room or office. Under most circumstances, the only individuals allowed to speak are the University personnel, the student in question, and witnesses called in to question. If the student has an attorney present with them, they are typically not permitted to speak during the hearing. However, an attorney can help prepare the student for the hearing, and advise them on the types of information and statements they should make.

An official from the university will outline the allegations against the student at the beginning of the hearing, as well as how the procedure will unfold. The student's rights will be addressed accordingly, and then the student will be given the right to deny any allegations brought up against them. At that point, any evidence against the student will be brought forth, and witnesses will be questioned.

The hearing will conclude with the presentation of arguments from both sides and the university official explaining how the process will continue. Sometimes there will be a resolution during the hearing depending on how serious the allegations are or the student is given the right to appeal.

Types of resulting discipline

Because the university is looking to teach the student a lesson, and not ruin their lives, the resulting discipline is most likely:

  • Documented warnings
  • Verbal reprimanding
  • Letters sent to parents or guardians
  • Requirements to move to another residence
  • Restorative action or actions
  • Evaluation or treatment for substance abuse
  • Formal apologies to parties involved
  • Payment of restitution
  • Depending on the situation, an educational sanction, suspension or expulsion
  • Demerits on official transcript or record

An experienced attorney can help

When the opportunity to appeal takes place during the hearing, students have the right to present their defense once more. At this point an experienced defense attorney adds even more benefit to their case. Not only can their experience provide the student and family support during such a difficult time, but they can also help develop a strategy moving forward throughout the rest of the process.

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