In Philadelphia, sexual misconduct on campus is taken very seriously. Students could face suspension as well as face criminal charges for sexual misconduct. Depending on the university, there will be conduct boards, hearing bodies, and deans to handle sexual misconduct cases. Those charges or allegations may start with informal hearings that a person has to attend, and then may elevate to a more formal setting where a formal hearing takes place. These allegations are less likely to be handled by an informal student government board or panel because of the seriousness of the allegations. Each college or university will have its own policy manual, which outlines the process for different offenses. College campuses will have a less strict process and require less evidence to find someone responsible, whereas a court of law requires a more rigorous case.
There are many unique aspects of sexual misconduct cases in Philadelphia. It is best to speak to a diligent student sexual misconduct attorney to learn about your rights and how to fight your case.
A unique aspect of sexual misconduct cases in Philadelphia includes the role and definition of harassment. Harassment can mean a variety of things under Pennsylvania law. It covers some physical actions such as striking, shoving, kicking someone, or threatening to strike or kick someone. Harassment also covers more abstract forms of harassing someone, such as communicating repeatedly in an anonymous manner or at an extremely inconvenient time, or repeated communication with someone, especially if it is a threat or other language that is meant to harass or annoy.
This crime could be charged as a summary offense or a misdemeanor of the third degree, depending on the type of behavior that happened.
Some of the common situations where sexual misconduct might occur are during college parties or dating situations. In dorm life where young men and women are living together for the first time, and there is a group mentality or party mentality regarding young people of the opposite sex, this is a time when reports of sexual misconduct will rise.
Additionally, in an alcohol-filled environment, whether there is some sort of peer pressure applied by Greek life or other club activities such as a sports team, party scenes, and general social activity, the rates of sexual misconduct go up. Another factor that leads to sexual misconduct generally is any use of recreational drugs or underage drinking, since people have a reduced ability to make conscious choices and thus consent to any sexual conduct.
The role of pressure in student sexual misconduct cases is that it can negate consent or may be viewed as a threat. Common forms of pressure could be coercion, intimidation, isolation, confinement, or force, and any consent given under those conditions to be invalid.
Additionally, pressure is a concern to universities because of the relative age of their students, most being under the age of 21 on college campuses. Campuses are concerned about the gap in ages and maturity between the students, such as a 21-year-old being at the same party as an 18-year-old. This speaks to the different levels of maturity that might exist between the individuals at a party. Universities tend to be aware and take consent very seriously on college campuses.
Alcohol and drugs can complicate a student’s sexual misconduct case in Philadelphia, especially when both parties are impaired, and consent is not clear between either party. When someone is under the effect of alcohol or drugs, and they are physically or mentally incapacitated by those substances, and consent is not valid. To the extent that alcohol has a large effect on the person engaged in sexual conduct, then they may not have consented to any sexual conduct because their mental abilities were reduced.
This is further complicated when there are allegations that someone was given alcohol or drugs by the other person in the sexual relationship or in the sexual encounter. That might also be viewed as a form of pressure and another indication that the consent is invalid.
Upon being notified of sexual misconduct, students should contact a lawyer because this is one of the most serious allegations that happens on a college campus. If they are found responsible for this misconduct, it could seriously affect their ability to stay in the school, to get back into the school if they are suspended or expelled, and could lead to separate collateral criminal consequences.
For that reason, they will want to contact a lawyer and discuss what they have to say about the situation because a lawyer may advise them about how to go about defending the charge without exposing themselves to further criminal prosecution. The last thing they should do is make a formal recorded statement without the advice of counsel.
Reach out to a knowledgeable attorney to learn about the unique aspects of sexual misconduct cases in Philadelphia and your legal options. Call today.