University students face new responsibilities and freedoms, but they can make mistakes as they learn to live independently. A university typically has a code of conduct to govern the student community, and it can hand down significant consequences outside of the legal system.
When you face a possible violation of the school conduct code at the University of Florida, or your loved one is a student in that situation, you need representation from a detail-oriented college student defense attorney. A University of Florida student conduct violations lawyer could guide you through a university investigation and the disciplinary process, and explain how you should respond to the allegations.
While violations of a university’s code of conduct can be crimes under state law, a university disciplinary process stands apart from a criminal prosecution. The University of Florida has its own Student Honor Code and Student Conduct Code, which details the institution’s procedures for investigations and hearings. Notably, the University does not require an advocate to accompany the student and advise them, and any such advocate cannot represent the student by appearing in their place. However, accused students or faculty will still benefit greatly from representation.
Code violations range from illegal and violent acts to scenarios specific to the university environment. For example, the University’s Student Code of Conduct forbids disruptive activity, sexual misconduct, and alcohol and drug abuse, and the Student Honor Code covers academic violations, such as plagiarism, cheating, and forgery. Some violations represent a typical crime within the university setting, such as hazing in a student group—a violation of the Student Code of Conduct—and the assault and battery of a hazed student.
Working with an attorney who has advised other students with the University of Florida’s processes can help prepare for what lies ahead. They also make sure the student understands the exact violation and the possible penalties.
Depending on the alleged violation—and the specific Code—the University of Florida can assess sanctions, which can affect a student’s academic standing, their university status, or their activities within the university community. The University can also withdraw or revoke a degree after a student has graduated.
Sanctions fall into three categories under the Student Honor Code and Student Conduct Code:
The hearing body responsible for rendering a decision can assess any combination of sanctions as appropriate for the violation. Violations that can lead to “separation” from the University—suspension and expulsion or disaffiliation—require a committee hearing, but violations that lead to other sanctions can be heard by an individual hearing officer.
The University can withdraw a student’s degree after they graduate if there is an unresolved violation matter or if a violation becomes known that took place before graduation. If a degree is withdrawn, it is returned to the student once the matter is resolved and any sanctions are fulfilled. However, a withdrawn degree can be revoked if it is determined the sanction of expulsion would have been appropriate or that research misconduct took place.
Any student disciplinary decision and consequence can be appealed, but the substance of the appeal depends on the procedure up to that point. For decisions rendered without a hearing—either through an administrative or collaboration review—an appeal is limited to a claim that the sanctions were inappropriate. For decisions coming from a hearing, an appeal can be broader, but still limited to a violation of the student’s rights during the process, new information or material coming to light, or inappropriate sanctions.
Appeals must be filed with the University within 10 days of the decision. An attorney can help a University of Florida student understand the best defense strategies, the possible sanctions and risk to their degree, and the appeals process.
An impending university investigation can loom over you or your loved one, and it can lead to serious consequences. From academic penalties to expulsion, the penalties for student violations can negatively impact your career. If the violation is also a state crime, you could end up paying fines or spending time in prison.
A University of Florida student conduct violations lawyer supports you during the university’s proceedings and prevents any violations of your student rights. Call our defense attorneys today to evaluate your case and to ensure fair treatment at your hearing.
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