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When Indiana College Students Need to Hire a Defense Attorney


Getting into trouble on or off campus can have a significant impact on a student’s future. A criminal charge can delay or completely halt graduation, derail dreams of medical, law, or graduate school, and hinder career advancement. Being academically accused or criminally charged can greatly diminish the value of a student’s college investment. Mistakes happen – Anyone can make a mistake or be falsely accused. In this article, we’ll discuss several common student offenses and review some frequently asked questions.

If you’ve found yourself in this stressful and uncertain situation, Mark Worthley, of Worthley Law, is an experienced Indiana defense lawyer who can help. Worthley Law offers free, no-obligation consultations to our clients. To schedule an initial consultation, call (219) 575-8565 or fill out our online form.

Types of Student Offenses

A variety of misconduct can lead to disciplinary actions by universities and colleges. Sometimes the misconduct that leads to disciplinary action is criminal. Criminal prosecution requires that the government proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but disciplinary actions have a lower level burden of proof. In either case, an attorney can help prove your innocence and get your life back on track. In this section, we’ll outline the various types of issues students commonly have. 

Student Disciplinary Action Lawyer

Colleges and universities uphold a set of rules called a code of conduct. Each school’s code of conduct is different and can be reviewed in the student handbook. When a student has violated any of the rules in the code, they will be subject to a disciplinary proceeding. According to the results of the proceeding, students may receive serious consequences that could threaten their educational and professional opportunities. Even seemingly small infractions could result in severe repercussions. Some examples of student disciplinary issues include:

  • Academic misconduct or dishonesty, including plagiarism, falsifying citations, and cheating or improper collaboration
  • Alcohol violations, including underage drinking, DUIs, OVWIs, public intoxication, etc
  • Drug-affiliated violations, such as the possession, distribution, or use of substances prohibited on campus
  • Property damage
  • Hazing offenses
  • Bullying or threats (in-person or online)
  • Stalking
  • Text or social media misuse
  • Anti-noise violations
  • Fake identification
  • Other violations of local, state, or federal laws

Commonly, a student may not even realize they have violated the school’s code of conduct. As an example, students likely know that falsifying citations is against school policy, but they may not know that it could come with serious penalties. If you’ve been accused of a school code offense, a disciplinary hearing will often follow. The outcome could follow you for the entirety of your life. Avoid wrongful accusations and potentially critical determinations by seeking the advice of a student disciplinary action lawyer.

Student Criminal Attorney

Some student misconduct is illegal, violating both school policy and the law. Some students find themselves in trouble at school while also facing a criminal court. Some examples of misconduct that may violate school policy and state law include:

  • Underage drinking
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI or OVWI)
  • Possession, distribution, or usage of drugs
  • Sex crime charges
  • Assault and battery
  • Hazing
  • Other misdemeanors and felonies

No matter the charge, students nor parents should take a criminal charge lightly. If you have been accused of a criminal violation, take action promptly. Even a small charge can result in jail time, probation, expensive fines, school suspension or expulsion, scholarship termination, sports ineligibility, and more.

Title IX Violations

Title IX violations can be extremely serious and complex. The law is meant to protect students, faculty, and employees from sex or gender discrimination at public colleges and universities. Most colleges and universities in the United States are subject to Title IX. Some situations covered by Title IX:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault
  • Bullying
  • Gender discrimination, such as unequal athletic or education opportunities
  • Pregnancy discrimination

Title IX dictates how these violations must be handled by the school and how the school must treat the complainant (the party who makes a claim) and the respondent (the accused party). Everyone involved should be protected by Title IX. The complainant is entitled to a thorough investigation and the opportunity to continue their education free from retaliatory actions. On the other side, the accused is entitled to a fair investigation and due process before disciplinary action is initiated. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Misconduct

Now that we’ve covered the various types of student misconduct, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about student misconduct, criminal charges, and student legal needs.

My university notified me that I’ve been accused of sexual assault. What are my rights?

Note that no matter what you’ve been accused of, your rights under the criminal justice system may differ from your rights under your university’s process. You have the right to remain silent, yet your university may use your silence against you in your hearing. Additionally, know that college administrators can share your statements with the authorities.

You also have a right to legal counsel. However, your school may not allow him or her in your hearing. Note that despite an attorney being prohibited from attending a school proceeding, legal counsel can still be of great assistance in helping you prepare. An Indiana defense lawyer can help by:

  1. Preparing the student with the line of questioning that may be presented at the hearing
  2. Giving advice about potential options and outcomes
  3. Ensuring that students and parents understand the disciplinary action, any related criminal charges, and know how to properly navigate the process
  4. Conduct investigations and gather evidence to validate a student’s case

Finally, you have the right to due process. This means you must be formally notified of the accusations against you and the basis of the accusation, you have a right to review the evidence against you, and you have a right to a fair and impartial hearing.

Should I hire an Indiana student defense lawyer?

When you’ve been accused of an offense in the State of Indiana, whether seemingly minor or extremely serious, the stakes can be high. Don’t take your chances and go about your defense alone. Call Worthley Law to discuss your case to find out if hiring a student defense lawyer is the right choice for your situation.

What should I do If criminal charges are filed against me while awaiting school proceedings?

The first step is hiring a criminal attorney who is familiar with Indiana’s laws. Once you’ve done this, try to get the school investigation and proceedings delayed. As a result of Title IX, which mandates prompt action from schools, a delay request may not be granted. Your lawyer may be able to help you navigate this request. 

If the incident didn’t happen on campus, can I still get in trouble at school?

Yes, even if the alleged incident did not happen on campus, you may still get in trouble at school. Even if there is no formal agreement between local law enforcement and the school (there sometimes is), it’s usually common practice for the police to alert the school and vice versa. You should assume that your school will find out and prepare yourself accordingly.

Could I be kicked out of school?

Depending on your school’s policy and your particular violation, you could be suspended or expelled. Some possible consequences include:

  1. Suspension or expulsion
  2. Loss of specific privileges, such as the privilege to  participate in extracurricular activities
  3. Community service
  4. Revocation of scholarships or grants
  5. Letters of reprimand
  6. Written warning
  7. Probation
  8. Transcript notations

Legal Services for Indiana College Students

When the stakes are this high, having a student defense lawyer on your side is advisable. Whether you have been charged with a criminal offense, accused of violating your school’s code of conduct, or both, call Worthley Law. You can schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation today by calling (219) 575-8565 or by contacting Worthley Law online. With over 14 years of experience as both an Indiana prosecutor and defense attorney, Mark Worthley has a long, successful record of taking on the toughest cases.