Within hours of first receiving notice that the student is being charged with a college or university disciplinary violation, he will be faced with serious decisions that will effect the outcome of the process.

The first step in any disciplinary process requires the college or university to provide the student with formal, written notice of the charges against him.  Within a few days of receiving notice of the charges, the student must decide whether to plead guilt (i.e. responsible) or not guilty (not responsible) for the charges.  This first and most important decision is sometimes the most confusing and difficult for the college student and his parents.  Many times the student knows that he has committed the violation and is torn between fighting the charges or simply admitting his guilt. Similarly, an innocent student may be scared about facing a full blown disciplinary hearing.

If the student admits his guilt at the outset then he will have no hearing about the facts of the case or an impartial decision whether he committed the violation or not.  He will be sent directly to the sentencing or discipline stage.  At this point, the student will receive his final discipline from a school administrator or a disciplinary panel.  The student should know before he decides to admit his guilt what the possible range of discipline may be. This can always be found in the student handbook or code of conduct.

If the student decides to fight the charges or enters a plea of not guilty (not responsible) then he will have a hearing. At this time, the second most important decision must be made.  Many universities allow the student to decide to have a hearing before a panel consisting of a number of other students, faculty and administrators or before only one Dean or one college administrator.  Before making this decision, the student should consider the nature of the charges, the evidence and witnesses against him and how other students and faculty will respond to the particular charge and the student’s defense.

Theses decisions, among many others, must be made during the course of a disciplinary proceedings and the assistance and advice of an experienced attorney who is familiar with these hearings could be very helpful to the family.  If you are a student in the Miami or South Florida area or the parent of a Miami or South Florida college student, feel free to contact Sherri A. Romano to discuss an upcoming disciplinary hearing.