Practicing in the west Georgia area, I am often confronted with students who are facing both a criminal action and a school disciplinary proceeding following an arrest. Most of the times the crimes alleged are drug offenses - a student is caught with illegal drugs in violation of both Georgia law and student code of conduct.
This scenario provides a unique challenge that will present the student with some difficult decisions they have to make. But, with the help of a criminal defense attorney who has walked through these simultaneous proceedings, the process can be handled in a smooth manner.
Three Things to Know if Facing School Discipline and Criminal Charges
- Anything you say in the school proceeding CAN be used against you.
- Your school punishment is not necessarily worse because you don't cooperate with their "investigation."
- Jail is worse than a school suspension.
Anything You Say in the School Proceeding CAN be Used Against You
Recently I was on the phone with a dean of students from a four-year university that I will not name. The dean was inquiring about whether or not my client would be signing an admission of guilt and accepting the recommended punishment. We advised her that we would certainly be making no such admissions - my client maintained his innocence and was not going to make any statements to any government actors (the golden rule - don't talk to cops/school officials, etc. without your lawyer).
The response was absolutely baffling. the dean told me, "these are not court documents."
OF COURSE, THEY AREN'T! WE KNOW THAT!
IF YOU MAKE AN ADMISSION TO A SCHOOL OFFICIAL IT CAN AND WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IN CRIMINAL COURT!!!!
One quick subpoena from the district attorney's office and that admission that is "not a court document" will quickly become a court document when the prosecutor reads your admission of guilt to a judge or jury.
Your School Punishment is Not Necessarily Worse Becuase you Don't Cooperate with Their Investigation
In these school disciplinary proceedings, the school will provide you with a list of your charges and will propose to you a recommended disciplinary "sanction."
Oftentimes, the recommended sanctions will include a suspension. Many students are afraid that if they do not cooperate with the university and admit their guilt (damning themselves in the criminal case) that the school will lash out and increase their punishment.
This certainly could happen, but in my experience, it does not. If the student simply remains silent then eventually the school disciplinary board will have a hearing and issue sanctions without you. Many times the punishment will be the same as what your recommended sanctions were even if you had cooperated.
Jail is Worse than a School Suspension
In almost every case the student would rather suffer a school suspension than even face jail time. They, however, are often put in a difficult situation because the school proceedings happen so much faster than the criminal case, so the student feels as if they should deal with the issue at hand. It is not uncommon for the school disciplinary proceeding to begin and end before the criminal case even gets started.
If you are facing a school suspension and/or a criminal case do not hesitate to give us a call at (470) 635-1725 and we will set up a time to talk about your case.