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Student Sexual Assault and Rape Allegations on Campus

Among the more serious charges someone can face are accusations of sexual assault and rape. Contact, a Virginia student defense lawyer to discuss these charges and what could happen to a student accused of these crimes. For more, call and schedule a consultation today.

Severity of Campus Sexual Assault and Rape Charges

Sexual assault and rape allegations are serious crimes and universities are institutions that are tasked with protecting their students. They need to protect their reputation as a school that cares about their students, that protects their students, and that holds students who misbehave or commit crimes or harass other individuals responsible.

Just like any type of institution, whether it is a government employer or prison, they are responsible for the people that live there, work there, and take classes there, because they need to protect their reputation by protecting the people that they are responsible for.

Differences Between Sexual Assault/Rape and Sexual Misconduct/Harassment

Sexual assault is a term used to describe a criminal offense, so it is used as a general term that could include rape, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, forcible sodomy, and stalking. Sexual misconduct and harassment are usually used either by an employer or a university or school to describe unwanted sexual advances, behavioral patterns, or conduct that is sexual in nature and is targeted at an non-consenting individual.

Proving Consent in Sexual Assault and Rape Charges

Consent is the ultimate issue in known party sexual assault and rape allegations.  Known party means people that know each other. This is in contrast to a  random street crime, because if there is sexual intercourse and there is consent, then there is no crime. So, if somebody is accused of rape and they have a defense that the complaining witness consented to the sex then they would be acquitted of the charge. In order to prove consent, there could be direct evidence of that or there could be circumstantial evidence of that.

Direct evidence of that would be that the victim said “yes” for sex and can be proven. For example if something was recorded, maybe something was written, maybe something that the victim said later in their email or text message, “Yes, I wanted to have sex with you that night.” That is direct evidence that the alleged victim consented to the sexual activity.

Circumstantial evidence of consent could be other circumstances of what happened around that night, such as did the alleged victim initiate sexual contact, did they initiate taking their clothes off, did they initiate penetration of some sort, did they initiate discussions that would lead a reasonable person to believe that they were consenting to sex. There is a situation where, unfortunately, a person has regrets. They consented, but then they wake up the next day and they regret it or they feel as if they were taken advantage of, but the person who is accused didn’t perceive it that way. They perceived it as if the person wanted that sexual contact.

Potential Penalties

If you are convicted of rape you can go to prison for life and you will have to register as a sex offender for life, so that is going to affect every aspect of your life. If you are convicted of rape it is almost guaranteed that the school is going to expel you.

How Can an Attorney Help a Student in These Circumstances?

Getting a lawyer on your side early on in the process is beneficial to possibly avoid criminal charges. You can potentially avoid administrative sanctions, because, again, you need somebody with experience with those issues who knows how to handle the system, and collect and analyze facts, and then deal with the decision makers whether it is school officials or detectives that might be investigating the case. They will also start building a defense from the start and especially for talking about the scenario in which consent to the sex is going to be the defense down the road.