Most people associate Title IX with sex discrimination and equal opportunity in the education environment, but the law extends to other areas of civil rights. Specifically, it applies to investigations and procedures involving claims of sexual misconduct.

Universities, colleges, and other institutions in Pennsylvania must strictly comply with Title IX rules regarding how sexual harassment grievances and sexual assault cases are handled. Unfortunately for the accused, these requirements generally tend to favor the accuser. As such, if you’re facing allegations, retaining an experienced Title IX defense attorney is critical.

Even though your accuser might seem to have the upper hand in filing a grievance regarding sexual assault, you do have rights. At Fienman Defense, we are prepared to fight to ensure you are treated fairly in the college disciplinary process so a rush to judgment doesn’t limit your access to an education.

Contact attorney Michael Fienman at (215) 839-9529 to set up a free consultation with a knowledgeable Title IX attorney.

Key Differences: Title IX and Criminal Cases

The thing that differentiates the Title IX process from a criminal case is the proceeding. When you’re accused of a crime, you’re arrested and move through various stages of the criminal justice system. If you’ve been accused of sexual misconduct under your school’s grievance policy, on the other hand, the matter is disciplinary in nature.

The standard of proof in a Title IX matter is also different. You might be surprised to learn that the criminal laws, evidentiary rules, and constitutional procedures actually afford you a higher level of protection for your rights. For example:

  • In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Any weaknesses in the evidence that raise questions in the minds of the jury could lead to an acquittal.
  • For a Title IX matter, the allegations and evidence must only show that it’s more likely than not that you engaged in sexual misconduct. This standard also called a “preponderance of the evidence,” is relatively low.

The “teeth” of the statute lies in enforcement since schools risk losing state and federal funding for non-compliance. Considering the high stakes, you can expect institutions to aggressively pursue claims of sexual assault.

Other Important Title IX Distinctions

While the different standards of proof are significant, there are other factors to consider:

Punishment: For a criminal conviction, you face incarceration, fines, and other penalties. Through the grievance process, you might be subject to expulsion or suspension if the school administration finds in favor of the accuser.

Parties Involved: In a criminal case, the parties are the government as plaintiff and the defendant being accused. Title IX disciplinary cases vary by institution, but either the school or the accuser is the complaining party. You might be referred to as the “respondent” or “accused.”

Investigation: Law enforcement, including police and detectives, take the lead in investigating crimes. In a college disciplinary matter, including allegations regarding sexual misconduct, the investigators are employees or contractors hired by the institution. Many colleges in Pennsylvania have specially trained Title IX officers on staff to pursue sexual assault allegations.

Privacy: Criminal trials are public proceedings, but much of what happens in school disciplinary cases is usually private. The intent, in most cases, is to protect your accuser – not you.

Get Help from an Experienced Defense Lawyer

As you can see, the distinctions between Title IX and a criminal case can have a significant impact on your rights. You could also be facing a disciplinary proceeding while a criminal case is pending. An unfavorable outcome could mean a criminal conviction, expulsion and civil liability among other consequences. You should have solid legal representation with a successful background in both areas.

Attorney Fienman is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney with an impressive record defending the rights of college students when their futures are at stake. Call Fienman Defense at (215) 839-9529 or contact us online. We’ll be in touch to discuss what happened and what can be done about it.

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