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Not every incident requiresall of our services.We encourage you to check out the various services we offer, see if any of them might be appropriate for your particular situation, and to contact us if you are not sure (LINK to info@CollegeJudicialConsultants.com). However, most of the “lesser” cases can be resolved taking advantage of the resources in place at your institution, as long as you are prepared to use them.We hope that you find these materials useful as you go through the system, but if we can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to contact us.Good luck!

What to do now that you have been accused

  1. Be polite!
    This may seem obvious, but it is incredibly important and all too frequently forgotten.For lesser violations especially, the way the accused student behaves determinesa lot about how the incident is handled.Even if you think the person accusing you is being hostile or rude, you should do everything you can to be polite and respectful throughout all your interactions with that person.If you believe that you were not polite in your initial interaction, reach out to the person to apologize and let him or her know you understand he or she is just doing what he or she has to do.
  2. Ask politely to have a copy of the incident report.
    While you are not necessarily entitled to see the notes taken, you should be able to get a copy of the incident report itself, which is the official version of what happened.This will let you know the extent of your accuser’s understanding of the situation and prepare you for conversations to come.
  3. Read over your policies and find all the ones that you think you may be accused of violating.
    You may be written up for something as simple as underage drinking, but your school may have additional related policies, such as providing alcohol for minors, unregistered events, noise violations, guest policies, compliance policies, and general conduct codes.Knowing how your actions might be treated will help you prepare for future conversations.All of your school’s policies should be available either online or in your student handbook.
  4. Do not try to offer any explanations for your behavior in the heat of the moment, do not challenge the policy you are being accused of violating, and do not try to talk your way out of anything.
    This is a variation of “be polite” but a little more specific.We have seen students accused of minor violations make things worse when their attempts to resolve situationsin the moment was seen as belligerent, threatening, or harassing.You will have plenty of time to make your position known, so do not try to do so at this point.EXCEPTION:If your school has an honor code you may not have the option of keeping silent.In that case you should ask if you can talk about the situation the next day when things are calmer, but if you don’t have that option, make sure you say nothing which could be considered misleading!Our natural inclination when we are caught doing something wrong is to deny it, but that initial denial can be the difference between a “slap on the wrist” and more serious consequences down the road.
  5. If you have said anything or have had a conversation regarding this incident, you should write down what was said as soon as possible.
    Your conversation will be used in the future and you will not remember the conversation more accurately at any time than right after you have it.This is especially true if you are tired, emotional, or under the influence of any substances.

First meeting checklist
No matter what system your school has, one thing is guaranteed—you will be meeting with someone after the incident has occurred.This meeting often helps determine whether an incident can be resolved informally (i.e., concluded with only that meeting) or whether further action needs to be taken.We encourage you to contact us immediately so we can begin assisting you, but if you would rather go it alone there are a few things you should know and/or ask:

  1. The person you are talking is not there to help you get out of trouble.
    They may be friendly and you may have a relationship with them, but their job during that meeting is to address your behavior as it affects the community and the school.This means trying to get the information necessary to determine how accountable you are and taking appropriate actions.
  2. Do not rely on your memory!
    Get as much information as you can in writing (ideally, electronically).
  3. Spend the initial meeting just listening and being polite.
    You are going to have a lot of questions, but most of them should be answered in that meeting without you having to ask them.If you are asked to explain what happened, be honest, do not deny those things you know are known, but offer the briefest explanation possible.If the person meeting with you does not seem satisfied, ask for a follow-up meeting and go into more detail once you have had a chance to process everything and have reviewed the materials.This may also be a good time to take advantage of our services.
  4. If you do not already know, ask if you will have the opportunity to respond in writing.
    Even if your fate is sealed, having a well-stated response in your file can help you in the long run in the event you find yourself in additional trouble or when you are ready to move on from school.
  5. Write down what you discuss.
    Whenever you have a discussion in which your behavior is the subject, it is a good idea to summarize what happened as soon as possible when your recollection is fresh.No detail is too small, so make sure you include your impressions of the person you spoke to and other details.
  6. If you can help it, do not make any major decisions during that initial meeting.
    You may be asked how you want to respond and offered several options.Even if you eventually choose the one you would have chosen at that moment, it is always better to take the time to reflect.What seems good at the time may actually be the preference of the person you’re speaking to and not the best choice for you.
  7. If the situation is resolved in that meeting, ask what will happen with your file.
    There is a huge difference between a file that becomes an “educational record” and one that is internal.Educational records are governed by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and are usually maintained (and thus searchable) for a long time after a student graduates.
  8. Offer to apologize to whomever was “hurt” by the incident if you know you are responsible.
    For example, if you are accused of drinking under age and violating the noise policy, ask if you can apologize to the RA and your neighbors for being loud and causing them trouble. Note:This is different from admitting responsibility.
  9. Be polite.
    Even if you think the person you’re speaking to is being “harsh” or not listening, he will always note if you are cooperative and respectful.While being polite may not help you or your case, being impolite will definitely hurt your case.
  10. If you do not like how the meeting went or if it seemed more serious than you initially thought it would, you should contact us for help immediately.
    It is never too late to obtain our services and the earlier you do so the more help we can be!