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Can Title IX Liability Give Rise to Criminal Liability?

Title IX By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2020/03/31 at 12:58pm

Get Help From an Experienced Title IX Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, then you could be facing significant penalties that include suspension, social restrictions, expulsion, and a lifelong stain on your permanent academic record — all of which can have lasting effects on your ability to integrate into the academic community and pursue a career afterwards.

Though most students fear the legitimate academic, social, and career repercussions associated with a Title IX proceeding, others may be feeling more anxious about potential criminal liability — after all, if the complainant argues that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, then law enforcement authorities would get involved, right?  This is a reasonable concern.  Title IX defendants may also worry that the outcome of their school proceedings will be used against them in criminal litigation.

It’s obvious that there’s quite a bit of confusion floating around the Title IX-criminal liability nexus, so let’s clear it up.

Prosecutorial Discretion

In criminal cases, prosecutors have some amount of discretion in choosing whether to investigate and charge the accused with a legal violation (which may be dependent on a number of different factors).  By contrast, schools are required — under Title IX — to investigate sexual misconduct claims and address the issue through the Title IX processes that have been put in place.

Title IX Outcome is Not Definitive

Title IX proceedings require a rather loose standard of proof — that of “the preponderance of the evidence.”  Simply put, you can be found guilty of a Title IX sexual misconduct violation if it is more likely than not that you committed such misconduct.  This can be mathematically represented by a 51 percent likelihood of truth.

On the other hand, criminal proceedings adhere rigorously to a strict standard of proof known as “beyond reasonable doubt.”  In order for you be found liable under the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, prosecutors must be able to show that there is no other logical interpretation of the facts that could raise a doubt.  It is absolute certainty of guilt.  Beyond reasonable doubt can be mathematically represented by a 99 percent likelihood of truth.

Due to this differing standard of proof, the outcome of a Title IX claim is not definitive with respect to your liability in a subsequent criminal proceeding.  It cannot be used to prove guilt or otherwise imply guilt.

Exercising Caution When Making Statements During a Title IX Proceeding

Though the outcome of your Title IX case cannot have a direct impact on your criminal liability, it is important to exercise caution when making statements at any point over the course of the Title IX process.  Why?  Well, law enforcement authorities can use statements that you have made over the course of the Title IX process against you in subsequent criminal litigation.

For example, suppose that you admit you are in a particular location at a particular time during your Title IX hearing.  Later, during criminal litigation, the prosecutors can pin down your location and time using that very same statement evidence (disclosed during the Title IX hearing).  For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you’ve been accused of a Title IX violation — your attorney will guide you throughout the process and help you avoid making statements that could be manipulated against you in a criminal case.

Contact Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for Legal Assistance

Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of experience working for students who have been unfairly accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, and who may subsequently (or simultaneously) face criminal charges.

We are committed to working closely with our accused clients through every step of the Title IX process, from the initial investigation to hearings to related criminal litigation.  We invest the resources necessary to glean critical case-related insights — insights that we use to advocate relentlessly for the accused.

Ready to speak to an attorney about the Title IX sexual misconduct process, and the potential for criminal liability?  Call us at 703-888-1943 or complete an online intake form to schedule a consultation with a skilled Title IX defense lawyer at our firm.