College students who are arrested may be prosecuted in BOTH the criminal court and a college disciplinary hearing. A criminal case could result in jail but the university on campus proceeding could result in suspension or expulsion from school. Unfortunately, the 6th Amendment Constitution to the US Constitution does not protect the Right to Counsel when ONLY a school suspension or expulsion is at stake. Meaning, because the student is not facing jail time in a university disciplinary proceeding he does not have the right to have an attorney with him at his disciplinary hearing. However, some colleges and universities do allow the student to bring an attorney but how much advocating the attorney can do even if they are permitted to attend the hearing depends on the specific university rules.
For example, here in Miami, Florida where I practice law, the University of Miami does not permit an attorney to participate at ANY level during the disciplinary process and a accused student’s attorney is not permitted to even be present to observe during the hearing. But, at Florida International University (FIU), the student can have an attorney attend the hearing and consult with the student during the hearing but the lawyer can not speak or participate in any other way.
Even if an attorney is not allowed inside the hearing, I have found that I can assist the student in understanding the sometimes complicated university disciplinary codes, the university rules of procedure and prepare the student for his hearing. In addition, if the initial hearing does not go well and results in a suspension or expulsion, I can prepare an appeal or a document for an additional school administrator or sometimes a court to review in order to change the outcome.
Although, the US Constitution does not believe that potential university suspension or expulsion is serious enough for an attorney – most students and parents do! So, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney who is familiar with the university disciplinary system – even if the college or the Dean discourages contacting an attorney for a university disciplinary hearing.