Protectors turned persecutors
The university police’s primary job role used to be providing security on college campuses. They protected the students and prevented crimes against students from occurring. The university police were often seen on patrol on campus and their presence brought the student body and faculty peace of mind.
It used to be that way. But now we see university police officers going on “party patrols” where they seek to arrest underage drinkers. While the concept of preventing underage drinking is a great idea, the method of enforcement has gotten out of hand. Gone are the days when police would stop underage drinkers, tell them to pour out their alcohol or give them a warning. Now underage drinkers are often ticketed and/or arrested by campus police. The same holds true to marijuana users.
While those who break the law should be punished, the downside is that the students who go to the university to get an education to get an opportunity for a great career, end up leaving the university with a criminal record that puts them at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace.
If the university police ask you a question are you required to respond?
The simple answer is that university police act as law enforcement and students have the same 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination that they do with regular police officers. Furthermore, university police are often deputized in the cities in which they work. Essentially the university police are the police and you have the exact same rights including the right to remain silent when questioned by them.
Title IX investigations
Sex assault and rape are some of the most serious criminal charges. Allegations regarding sexual misconduct are taken seriously by both law enforcement and academic institutions. The accused not only might face prison time, mandatory registration on the sex offender registry, but also expulsion and disenrollment from the university.
Within the past five years, university police have become more involved in the sex assault allegations. Now oftentimes, a student who has been accused not only faces criminal prosecution, but also disciplinary action by the school.
It is not unusual for a student to be facing a sex assault investigation while there is a parallel Title IX investigation, putting the student in potentially a difficult position. Often in Title IX investigations, the student is given the opportunity to rebut sex assault allegations, however, the rebuttal that the accused gives the Title IX office could be used against him or her in the criminal proceeding.
While the Title IX office will tell the student that the investigation is confidential, that is not entirely correct. In the past, universities have turned over Title IX investigations to prosecuting authorities when the prosecutors subpoenaed the information.
Fighting the Title IX allegations may increase the likelihood that you will be arrested and/or prosecuted with the information from the Title IX investigation if it is ever released to law enforcement. Invoking the right to remain silent will minimize the risk that the Title IX investigator will feel compelled to turn the information over to law enforcement if a subpoena is issued.
The Title IX proceedings may have be investigative in nature, the university police may be running a parallel criminal investigation to which the accused has the absolute right to an attorney and a right to remain silent.
So, what can you do?
Consulting with a criminal defense attorney is crucial for student whether they are facing a disciplinary action for drug use and alcohol, a criminal investigation or a Title IX investigation. A seasoned criminal defense attorney will be able to recognize the complexity of the parallel proceedings and provide the accused student with advice on which course of action may be most beneficial to the student in the short term and/or in the long term.
Berry Law Firm had long defended students charged drug crimes, sex crimes and other accusations on college campuses. If you have been falsely accused of a crime or your Constitutional rights have been violated, contact the aggressive experienced attorneys at Berry Law Firm.