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How to prepare for a college disciplinary hearing

Massachusetts is known for its numerous quality establishments of higher education. College is supposed to be a time of learning and making lifelong decisions for the future. Such growth into adulthood often involves making mistakes. Unfortunately, sometimes these errors in judgment can cross the line into criminal activity.

When this happens, students may face both criminal charges from the government and disciplinary action from the schools they attend. Most people understand the need for a lawyer and defense plan for the first situation, but just as important is representation and preparation for the second. Otherwise, potential consequences include loss of housing, financial aid, scholarships, leadership positions and student status.

The challenge

While the justice system follows the same basic structure in every court of law, discipline varies from school to school and even from case to case within a college. Each place has its own code of conduct and penalties for breaking the rules.

Students may not be aware of all the intricacies of school discipline, but a lawyer experienced in college hearings will and can be beneficial in preparing properly for the event to achieve a fair outcome. Some places allow an attorney to be present during the hearing whereas others do not. In some cases, legal counsel can attend if serving in an advisory capacity.

Tips for the hearing

Students who must attend a hearing or other formal (or informal) procedure should follow these tips to increase the chances of favorable results:

  • Attend all meetings and be on time.
  • Read all relevant documents, such as the school's code of conduct, to stay informed.
  • Ask questions to ensure understanding of the accusations, process and possible penalties.
  • Write down important statements about the details of the case to make before the audience.
  • Prepare answers to questions that may come up in the hearing.

Results of the hearing are often final, so the more students prepare, the better the outcome is likely to be.

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