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Universities May Choose Evidentiary Standards in Title IX Disputes

Title IX By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2020/12/31 at 12:45pm

Let Our Experienced Title IX Attorney Help

If you have been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, then you could be subject to a range of penalties: from academic suspension to expulsion, and more.  Not only could the process itself damage your reputation in your community, but depending on the outcome (and media coverage), you could find yourself at a significant disadvantage in the future when it comes to developing a successful professional and social life.

The Title IX process generally disfavors the accused student, but in 2020, new guidelines have potentially made it easier for accused students to navigate the process and secure a favorable result.

Specifically, with respect to determining guilt in the sexual misconduct context, the guidelines not only require that schools presume the accused innocent but allow schools to choose between implementing the “preponderance of the evidence” standard and the “clear and convincing evidence.”

If your school utilizes the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, then you may stand a better chance at securing a favorable result.  Depending on what your school utilizes, this can impact what strategy you should pursue.

Let’s take a brief look at each standard, in turn.

Preponderance of the Evidence

The “preponderance of the evidence” standard is rather loose and only requires that the party attempting to prove a particular contention (i.e., that the accused student is guilty of sexual misconduct) show that it is more likely than not that the evidence is true.

In mathematical terms, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard is often likened to a 50 percent chance of the evidence being true than untrue.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

The “clear and convincing evidence” standard is stricter than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.  In proving any particular contention (i.e., that the accused student is guilty of sexual misconduct), the evidence must be highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue.

In mathematical terms, the “clear and convincing evidence” standard is often likened to a roughly 70-75 percent chance of the evidence being true than untrue.

Speak to a Title IX Attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for Guidance

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique litigation firm located in Alexandria, VA, representing clients in a range of disputes, including those which center around the Title IX process at a university-level.

We understand just how overwhelming it can be for a student to be accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, as the consequences of a negative outcome — social, psychological, and from a career perspective — are potentially severe.

Given the high-stakes nature of the Title IX process and the variability and murkiness of the guidelines from school-to-school, we believe that it is crucial that the accused student seek legal assistance as soon as possible.  Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our attorneys work closely with students at an early stage so that we can more effectively navigate the administrative process and secure their rights.

Call us at (703) 888-1943 or send us a message online to request a consultation with an experienced Title IX attorney.