Title IX - Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance

Your biggest fear is embarrassment or suspension, or a mark on your transcript.  I can handle this myself.  I do not need a lawyer.  This is just a school thing.  You are wrong.  It does not matter what the College or University Title IX office does, your biggest fear is going to prison after losing a criminal trial.  

Sexual misconduct encompasses numerous Title IX claims, including intimate partner or domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and exploitation (naked photos or video).  The biggest one is sexual assault or rape.  These claims have their own process, investigators and decision-makers.  This is not your drinking in the dorm probation or your DUI scolding.  The mark can be permanent.  It will delay your education.  You can get removed from campus and classes without a hearing.  And, lose or win, you can be prosecuted by the local district attorney with serious consequences.

The case comes quick.  Often within days or weeks.  Once the investigation starts, people that have been trained that only 2-8% falsely accuse  will investigate and judge you.  In a barely separate office, a victim advocate and therapist, sometimes the same person will praise the victim  for bravery, for courage, for stopping you before you do it to someone else.  These people all work together, train together, and eat lunch together.  They believe in what they are doing – protecting victims, most often women.  

You may get an email or a call.  Sometimes you will know the code violation from this notice, sometimes you will just find out that you have a few hours to remove yourself and any belongings you need immediately from campus.  You have been trespassed from the entire campus and cannot attend classes or take exams or go to study group or your or your dorm or your activities.  If you know the code violation, you likely will not learn the exact facts that support it nor even who is saying this happened.  

Presumption of innocence?  Nope, you do not get this presumption.  Burden of proof on the prosecutor?  Nope, they make you prove yourself innocent.  Confront and cross examine your accuser?  Nope.  Hearing with live witnesses?  Uh-uhh.  Lawyer to speak for you?  No such luck.  Impartial Judge?  That is laughable in many courts, but definitely not here.  A requirement to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt or at least by clear and convincing evidence?  Sorry, that is something we just cannot do.  A right to a full appeal?  Often no.  

The basic due process rights that we take as a given in criminal court are denied in these hearings.  They are not even hearings – there is never a time when all the people involved sit down and have a discussion of the case where you can see what happens.  This is modeled after the civil system and its you against the world.

In the face of this organized bias, you are expected to stand alone.  

Oh, and all the evidence they collect or fail to collect, is now available for the local cops and prosecutors to bring criminal charges if the victim is not satisfied with the results, or even if s/he is.  That statement you made where they did not write down the good stuff, but did take a bunch of words out of context to make you look bad.  That will be repeated to a jury.  Did your inexperienced lawyer conduct a recorded interview with an investigator and provide the transcript to the college or university?  Well, now what you thought were off the record, clarifying comments are fodder for the prosecutor emotion cannon that can blow you into prison.

So it’s a few months after the investigation started.  Maybe you were able to salvage the semester.  They find you responsible for sexual misconduct.  This is now stamped on your academic transcript.  Try getting an internship or transfer to another school now.  They suspend you until the accuser graduates or longer.  You have to take sex offender classes before you can return.  By then, all your friends will be long gone and your college experience is never the same, if you even get back.  

And then s/he sees you somewhere, or on Facebook or Instagram.  S/he thinks from the look on your face that you did not learn your lesson.  The police are called and the criminal process starts.  You face felony charges.  The worst part is that your friends and those that may have been witnesses to facts that can help you in court have moved on.  They do not remember.  You lost touch with them.  They don’t want to get involved.  That party seems like every other party. The statements that could have saved you are lost forever.  Will the cops care? Will the DA care?  Will the jury care?  Some or all of them believe that 2-8% false accusation rate.  With a number that low, you are almost certainly guilty.  So what if the case was poorly investigated 2 years ago. You still did it.

But you did not.  And your life is about to get even worse.

How do you avoid this fate?  You need a lawyer that fights Title IX cases and criminal cases.  You need an investigation that is aimed at winning the criminal trial, that can support a civil rights suit against the college or university and may also persuade the Title IX office, or at least university counsel, that you are innocent and they are violating your due process rights.

Together with my investigators, we get the evidence quickly and efficiently.  We challenge the violations of due process from the start.  We protect you from saying things that will hurt you.  We help you make the best decisions for yourself.

These cases happen quick and require near immediate action.  They are not cheap, but try hiring a lousy lawyer and see how much you end up paying.  The school often has attorneys that you can consult with for free, but they do not investigate or collect evidence.  They may not be able to represent you in criminal court.

It is not just rape claims.  Stalking and other intimate relation or gender based violence can get you suspended a year or more.  Stalking sounds like a creepy guy following you around, looking in your window at night and generally menacing you.  But, like many of the college or university definitions, it is so broadly defined that a couple of positive test messages sent after a request for no contact can get you suspended.  Taking intimate photos and sending them to even one other person can be exploitation, viewed as you attempting to slut shame.  

If you are an international student on a student visa, you may get deported for any suspension.  It is much harder to get another student visa if you have to explain “sexual misconduct” that is on your transcript.  In this realm, all conduct violating the code is sexual misconduct because it violates Title IX.

Call immediately – mention Title IX – make a list of possible witnesses and contact information – write a brief summary or what you remember or believe – stay away from the victim and any of his/her friends, no conact at all – stay sober.  

You can hope or wish your life had not changed, but it has.  I can help.

[1] False Allegations of Sexual Assault:  An Analysis of Ten Years of Reported Cases, David Lisak, Lori Gardinier et al, Violence Against Women 16(12) 1318-1334 (2010) (https://icdv.idaho.gov/conference/handouts/False-Allegations.pdf) – defines falsely report as proven false, specifically “a case was classified as a false report if there was evidence that a thorough investigation was pursued and that the investigation had yielded evidence that the reported sexual assault had in fact not occurred. A thorough investigation would involve, potentially, multiple interviews of the alleged perpetrator, the victim, and other witnesses, and where applicable, the collection of other forensic evidence (e.g., medical records, security camera records). These numbers suggest the other 92-98% are honest and true claims.  Of the total, only 35.3% were considered solid enough to proceed, the remainder did not get referred for prosecution.  About to 60% did not have enough information, did not have a cooperating complainant, or were deemed not to be a sexual assault even if true.  The study reviews broadly others’ work, but only specifically studies 136 cases from one university.  No matter what you believe about true rate of false reports, it is definitely higher than 8% and could be higher than 50%.

[1] In Colorado, by statute, a person complaining of sexual assault is deemed a victim, even after a trial where the defendant wins a not guilty verdict from a jury of 12.

If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney for issues regarding with your misdemeanor or felony. We represent clients in Boulder, Colorado and surrounding area. The Savela Law Firm, P.C. Give us a call at (720) 260-7392 or complete our inquiry form.

In Colorado, and Boulder especially, police believe that if they are called out on a domestic violence case, someone has to go to jail.  This is not the law , but that is what many believe.  A recent case involved a wife asking for help with a non-violent, but out of control intoxicated partner.  Instead of an ambulance and detox at the ARC, the police came and arrested.  No one said either person struck the other, including an independent witness.  Yet, an arrest happened and months pass prior to the case resolution.

As with much policy, domestic violence law enforcement started with a reaction to prior failures to properly deal with a serious issue, but has turned to a one size fits all over-reaction.  Where society needed to change to prevent true violence towards women, it has turned to seeing all cases as the first sign in the slow progression to severe violence.  And the government needs to protect the victim that does not know what s/he is doing, her victim-hood is so great that s/he cannot protect herself.  

In cases where the power struggle of an argument turns to regretted false or exaggerated allegation, people often try to undo their wrong themselves by calling the police or prosecution or judge and saying the truth.  Any attempt by the victim to retract a false claim made in anger or without admitting his/her own actions is met with “recanting victim” ideology.  The retraction proves the initial statement is true because that is what victims do. There is a better way to resolve these cases than for the victim to attempt to talk the prosecution into dismissing or otherwise minimizing the case.  I can help.

In cases were the conflict will not resolve and the claim is false, we often see a motive to lie.  This may be for child custody or divorce leverage.  It can be pure revenge over the end of a relationship.  It can also just be a truly unhappy person that wants others to know how s/he feels by watching the world burn.  Mental health issues are often prevalent.  Finding the motivation and proving it is often as much art as skill.  I work with my client and what I know about the victim to feel what it is like to be the victim.  To empathize with and even love the victim so I can best interview and cross examine him/her.  The process allows the motive to expose itself.  

In Colorado, a person arrested for Domestic Violence cannot be released from jail until they see a Judge.  This wait can be several days if arrested on Thursday or Friday.  The Judge will issue a mandatory protection order forcing the accused out of the shared home, and preventing any contact with the victim.  If children are involved, the Judge will often prevent contact with them as well.  Although a Sheriff’s Civil Assist can allow a few minutes to get basic items from the house, this is never enough time.  You will not return home until the Judge allows it, often not for months, and then only after proving you have started Domestic Violence classes, remained sober and otherwise followed the protection order.  The victim has to request contact.  If the victim recants or minimizes, it is harder to change the protection order.  Now, often if you take the plea bargain, they will change the protection order so you can return home.  An innocent person has to spend months and money going to trial and win, but a guilty person who takes a plea gets to go home.  

Domestic violence charges include a mandatory protection order preventing the possession of any gun or ammunition.  A conviction means you lose your gun rights forever.  Any guns or ammunition in your possession must be turned over to the police until the end of the case, if you win.  You can have a friend or family member take custody of the guns.  There is a clear reason for this rule:  to protect the very few victims that might be assaulted with a gun.  As many know, a person who really wants to cause problems, will.  A violation of this protection order can be a very serious charge, likely forcing a plea to a lousy deal to avoid a 6-12 month mandatory jail sentence of a violation of bail bond conditions.  All protection order conditions are bail bond conditions.  Contact with the victim of any kind is a violation.  A violation is both the new charges of violation or protection order and violation of bail bond conditions, plus a revocation of bond.  All are domestic violence charges and a conviction means you lose your gun rights forever.

The Judge and the prosecutor are jaded and do not believe you.  They will not believe your partner’s change in story.  So, how do you fight?  I can help.  You need experience with the process and the way they think.  You need a lawyer that knows how to investigate and present the case to try to get a favorable result without trial.  Or, more importantly, to know when there is no way to get the case dismissed, and to go to trial and win.  With over 20 years experience on these cases, over 15 years in Boulder county, I have seen what works and what does not.  I know how to show your innocence, as well as show the prosecution failure to prove it.

[1] The Colorado Revised Statutes dictate that if there is probable cause of a domestic violence crime, then an arrest must be made.  Probable cause is not a high burden, but there must be some evidence of a crime and who committed it.  In cases where the initial aggressor is not easily determined, especially where there is self defense or provocation, police do not have to arrest, but do.  The person arrested is often the one with a prior record or the one who did not call police.  This is arbitrary, likely born of frustration and gender bias.

If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney for issues regarding with your misdemeanor or felony. We represent clients in Boulder, Colorado and surrounding area. The Savela Law Firm, P.C. Give us a call at (720) 260-7392 or complete our inquiry form.

There is nothing you can tell the police today that you cannot say later with a lawyer.  Just say, "I want a lawyer."

Generally, if the police are asking a question, they are seeking your consent for something.  A question means the police are trying to get incriminating admissions, asking permission for something or requesting consent (meaning, getting you to waive your rights).  This means that you can say "Do I have to?  I do not want to."  Or, say, "I do not want to talk with you."  If the police suggest you are hiding something, just say "my lawyer told me to say no."  Listen for a question.  If you are unsure if it is a question or a demand, you should ask, "do I have to?"  You could add, "I do not want to."

Just because a police officer has a gun, badge and uniform, does not mean they have any more power than a stranger on the street.  If the police come up to you without lights and sirens and without a command to stop, the courts will say this is a consensual encounter.  This means that the police do not have to justify their actions with evidence supporting the commission of a crime.  If you do not try to leave or ask to leave, this remains a consensual encounter.  Think of it as if a stranger came up to you and slowly start to move away.  Tell the officer, "no thanks, I want to be on my way."  Be polite and clearly state that you want to leave.  If they question your actions, tell them that your lawyer said to do this.  Make sure you are not committing a crime by leaving (for example, getting in your car and driving when you are impaired).  Just walk away.

Why assert your rights?  If you assert your rights, then an experienced criminal defense lawyer can get evidence suppressed.  If you consent, then the evidence comes in against you.

Miranda Issues - "I want a lawyer"

The police only have to advise you of these rights in certain situations, basically, if they are asking you questions and you are in custody.  The questions are not normal booking questions nor the basic questions at a traffic stop.  But, if they are asking any custodial questions that could lead to incriminating information, then the rights must be read first.  If they are asking questions, just say, "I want a lawyer" and nothing else.  It is best just to say, "I want a lawyer" to all questioning.

Don't Believe Me - here is the Free Thought Project on the Issue

Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Not Talk to the Police

REASON #1: Talking to the police CANNOT help you.

If the police are talking to you, it’s because they suspect you have committed a crime. If they have detained you, it’s because they already have enough evidence to arrest you and they want to see if you will admit it and thus, give them an even stronger case against you.If they have evidence to arrest you for a crime, they will. If they don’t, they won’t. It’s as simple as that.Talking to them or not talking to them won’t make a difference! No one has ever “talked his way out of” an arrest. If the police have enough evidence to arrest, they will. If you deny that you committed the crime, they will not believe you. They already have evidence suggesting that you committed the crime. They’ll assume you’re just doing what every criminal does in denying the offense. It will not prevent you from getting arrested.This is completely contrary to popular belief. For some reason, many people think that they are savvy enough or eloquent enough or well educated enough to be able to talk to the police and convince the police not to arrest them. But ask any police officer if because of the eloquence and convincing story of the suspect, they have ever been convinced not to arrest somebody whom they had originally intended to arrest, and they will tell you no. They will tell you that in their experience, no one has ever talked themselves out of getting arrested. Talking to the police cannot help you. It cannot prevent you from getting arrested. It can only hurt. 

REASON #2: Even if you’re guilty, and you want to confess and get it off your chest, you still shouldn’t talk to the police.

People plead guilty in America every day. Probably over 90% of defendants in state court plead guilty at some point during their case. There is plenty of time to confess and admit guilt at a later stage of the proceedings. What’s the rush? Get a lawyer first. Let the lawyer set up a deal whereby you get something in exchange for accepting responsibility for the offense. A better plea bargain, or maybe even immunity. If you confess to the police, you get nothing in return. Zero. In fact, you probably get a harsher prosecution because the state’s case is now airtight, now that you have confessed.

REASON #3: Even if you are innocent, it’s easy to tell some little white lie in the course of a statement.

This kind of thing happens all the time. A person who is completely innocent and who is trying to vehemently assert their innocence will go overboard and take it a little bit too far and deny some insignificant fact, tell some little white lie, because they want to sound as innocent as possible. But if the police have evidence of that lie, it makes your entire statement look like a lie. The prosecutor will ask: “Why did he lie to the police? Why indeed would he lie to the police, unless he were guilty?”

That little white lie could be used to destroy your credibility at trial.

An example would be a man who is questioned about a murder. He wants to sound innocent. He wants to sound non-violent. He is, in fact, innocent. So he denies everything. He denies the killing. He denies being in the area where the killing occurred on the night that it occurred. He denies owning a gun, and denies that he has ever owned a gun in his whole life. But it Turns out that this last statement is not true, And the police can prove it. He did at one time during his life own a gun. Now he has told a lie and the police have caught him and things will only go downhill from there. Although he is innocent of the murder, he has told a lie that will be used to destroy his credibility at trial and could be the cause of his conviction.

REASON #4: Even if you are innocent, and you only tell the truth, and you don’t tell any little white lies, it is possible to give the police some detail of information that can be used to convict you.

For example, a suspect is being questioned about a murder. He is truly innocent of the murder. But in the course of explaining his innocence, he makes the statement that he never liked the victim, because the victim was not a nice guy. A statement like that could be used to prove motive.

Or in the course of the statement, the suspect might admit that he was in the area of town where the murder was committed at the time it was committed. Although he’s innocent and although this statement is true, the prosecutor could use that statement to suggest that the suspect had the opportunity to commit the crime, which looks very bad in front of a jury.

REASON #5: Even if you were innocent, and you only tell the truth, and you don’t tell any little white lies, and you don’t give the police any information that can be used against you to prove motive or opportunity, you still should not talk to the police because the possibility that the police might not recall your statement with 100% accuracy.

What if the police officer remembers something wrong? What if he remembers you said “X” when actually you said “Y”? If the police officer takes the witness stand and contradicts your statements at trial, it will kill your credibility. You can take the witness stand and say “I never said that!” But it’s your word versus a police officer. Who’s the jury going to believe? Who will the jury assume is lying to save his own skin? Who will the jury believe is lying because he’s really guilty? You guessed it. YOU!

REASON #6: Even if you’re innocent, and you only tell the truth, and your entire statement is videotaped so that the police don’t have to rely on their memory, an innocent person can still make some innocent assumption about a fact or state some detail about the case they overheard on the way to the police station, and the police will assume that they only way the suspect could have known that fact or that detail was if he was, in fact, guilty.

Example: Suppose a police officer is questioning A suspect about a homicide. And the suspect makes the statement “I don’t know who killed the victim. I’ve never owned a gun in my life. I don’t even like guns.” On it’s face, there’s nothing incriminating about that statement. But suppose at trial, the prosecutor asks the police officer if anything about that statement surprised him. The police officer answers “Yes, it surprised me when the suspect mentioned a gun, because I had never mentioned a gun before that. I merely told him that I was investigating a homicide.”

When the officer said there has been a homicide, the suspect may have simply assumed that the killing was done with a gun. Or the suspect may have overheard in the police station some other officer talk about the fact that it was a shooting. But if the officer taking the statement had never mentioned a gun or a shooting, and the suspect makes the statement that he had never owned a gun, you give the prosecution the opportunity to create some high drama, suggesting that suspect has had a Freudian slip, and has made a statement about a gun because he is, in fact, the murderer. And as the murderer, he knew that a gun was used.

REASON #7: Even if you’re innocent, and you only tell the truth in your statement, and you give the police no information that can be used against you, and the whole statement is videotaped, a suspect’s answers can still be used against him if the police (through no fault of their own) have any evidence that any of the suspect’s statements are false (even if they are really true).

Suppose the police have a statement from a witness who claims to have seen the suspect in the area where the crime was committed at the time of the incident. Suppose further that this witness is actually wrong, but has made an honest mistake. The suspect then gives a statement to the police in which he says he was nowhere near the area where the crime took place at the time of the incident. By giving the statement, the suspect has now created a conflict between his own statement and the statement of this witness. By itself, the statement of the witness that he or she saw the suspect in the area at the time the crime was committed is not that useful. But by giving this statement, and creating a conflict with this witness’s statement, the suspect has now made this relatively minor witness into the government’s star witness.

So even if you tell the complete truth, you’re putting your cards on the table without first seeing what evidence the government has. And if the government has some bit of evidence which, through some honest mistake, contradicts part of your story, you set yourself up to be portrayed as a liar by giving a statement without first knowing what evidence the government has.

REASON #8: The police do not have authority to make deals or grant a suspect leniency in exchange for getting as statement.

People tell me all the time that they gave a statement to the police because the police told them that they would be better off if they confessed, better off if they admitted what they did wrong, better off if they cooperated. The police will make vague statements that things will go easier on the suspect if he simply admits what he did wrong. The police will also make vague statements suggesting that they will do what they can to help the suspect, that they will put in a good word for the suspect, if the suspect will just come clean.

Number One thing to remember: The police do not have authority to make deals, grant immunity, or negotiate plea agreements. The only entity with that authority is the District Attorney in state court and the U.S. Attorney in federal court. Despite their claim that they are trying to help you, the only help police are providing when they take your statement is giving you rope with which to hang yourself.

REASON #9: Even if a suspect is guilty, and wants to confess, there may be mitigating factors which justify a lesser charge.

Mitigating factors are rarely brought out by the police in an interview. Normally, police want to focus on the facts that will suggest the suspect has committed the most severe crime possible. In fact, the suspect may have committed a lesser grade of offense. And if given the opportunity to talk to an attorney first, the attorney may be able to explain to the suspect what facts are important in establishing that he is guilty of a lesser grade of an offense, and not a higher grade. A confession presented in this context to the District Attorney’s office might result in a lesser charge and a more appropriate and fair penalty.

REASON #10: Even for a completely honest and innocent person, it is difficult to tell the same story twice in exactly the same way.

If you tell your story one time at trial and you tell the truth and you’re innocent, there’s very little the prosecutor can do by way of cross examination. But if you’ve told your story twice, once at trial, and once previously in a statement to the police, many months apart, the chances are very high that, even if you are telling the truth, some little details in your statement are going to change.

A good cross examiner will pick up on these changes and will relentlessly question you about them in an effort to make it look like you are lying.

So for all these reasons, whether you are guilty or innocent, whether you want to confess or want to exonerate yourself, whether you’re poorly educated or the most eloquent speaker in the world, you should NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances, give a statement to the police when you have been detained as a suspect.

Note: Credit for some of the Top Ten Reasons goes to Professor Dwayne at Regent University Law School.

Source: General Strike USA

Read more at Free Thought Police

Even if you are guilty, there is a reason to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer.  The right defense can result in a lessor crime that reduces the consequences and charges.  The right defense can make your plea offer livable.  You can only get the right defense from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.  Call me immediately.

 If you would like to schedule an initial consultation, contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney for issues regarding with your misdemeanor or felony. We represent clients in Boulder, Colorado and surrounding area. The Savela Law Firm, P.C. Give us a call at (720) 260-7392 or complete our inquiry form.