If you are a student or parent of a student who has been accused of a drug-related violation, you might feel powerless. You are simply waiting to see what your fate will be as the school’s disciplinary committee determines what to do.
If you or your child is in danger of expulsion resulting from drug charges, you should consider these three questions to better understand what to expect.
1. Did the charge come from the school or from the legal authorities?
If the drug policy violation happens on campus without the police being involved, the matter will likely be handled as an inside matter, though there is a possibility that the school will inform the proper legal authorities.
If the school’s disciplinary action is a result of criminal charges off campus, the process will depend on the school’s specific policy regarding criminal charges against its students.
Local Valdosta State University’s Student Code of Conduct is a relatively common example of how these policies read in most school’s conduct codes:
Students accused of violations of local, state, or federal laws that adversely affect the interests of the University, may also be subject to the appropriate Valdosta State University disciplinary process. Pending civil or criminal matters shall not prevent Valdosta State University, at its discretion, from initiating appropriate disciplinary action.
The school can use or not use criminal charges as a justification for disciplinary action, including expulsion.
However, in the legal system of the United States, a person charged with a crime is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. If you have been charged with a crime in the justice system but found not guilty, that verdict should carry some weight with your school’s disciplinary committee.
There is a strong argument that the disposition of not guilty in a court of law should result in dismissal of disciplinary actions on the part of the school.
2. Do you have a previously good record with the school?
Although your academic and behavioral record at the school will not be the only thing influencing the school’s ultimate decision, it should be an important factor.
A student with excellent grades, a clean disciplinary record and a history of campus leadership should have better standing with a disciplinary committee than someone with a history of disciplinary problems or poor academic performance.
3. Have you done everything possible to avoid being expelled?
Expulsion for a drug-related violation is extremely serious and it could be catastrophic for your future or your child’s future.
You have a right to fight an expulsion and you are always entitled to legal counsel. Many people in this situation simply go through the process without outside help, but this is a bad idea. Working with an experienced lawyer can help you protect your future. There is too much at stake not to call a lawyer.