What to Do If You’re Accused of Rape on a University Campus in North Carolina
Accusations of Sexual Assault on Campus Can Have Serious Consequences
Sexual assaults are an unfortunately frequent occurrence on college campuses across the nation. Prosecutors generally show restraint in choosing whether to take action against a suspect, but administrators may take drastic action against suspected student offenders – even when the available evidence is thin.
Whether confronted with a college disciplinary process or prosecution from the district attorney, you should exercise your right to remain silent. Be mindful that what you say at a disciplinary hearing could make its way into the hands of prosecutors and result in rape charges. Therefore, you should not discuss allegations with anyone if you have been accused of rape on a campus in North Carolina. Instead, retain the help of one of the best criminal defense attorneys you can find as soon as possible.
What Is Title IX and How Does It Come into Play?
Across the U.S., nearly 13% of all undergraduate and graduate students will experience sexual assault or rape.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, private and public universities must address allegations of sexual misconduct or rape. Universities must also have procedures for investigating and handling allegations accordingly.
However, many colleges follow “affirmative consent standards,” which are more specific than what the state and federal courts of law follow. For this reason, those facing allegations of sexual misconduct or rape can be investigated not only by police and other law-enforcement agencies but also by campus officials.
Your Rights if Accused of Sexual Assault in North Carolina
When you have been accused of sexual misconduct or rape, you have certain rights. This is true when you are being investigated on criminal charges or by campus officials under Title IX. When you are under investigation for campus sexual assault or rape, you have the right to an advisor of your choosing.
You also have the right to fair and unbiased proceedings. You can rely on your attorney to ensure your rights are upheld every step of the way and prepare a defense that allows you to put this experience behind you and get back to your life.
Don’t Attempt to Contact the Alleged Victim
One of the worst mistakes you could make when you are under investigation for rape or sexual assault on campus is an attempt to contact the alleged victim. You might believe reaching out to the person who accused you will help resolve the matter.
However, there may be a no-contact order in place. You could face additional criminal charges if you refuse to comply.
Remember: anything you say can and will be used against you. You can also be charged with witness tampering for attempting to influence the witness’s testimony, which could carry severe criminal penalties.
Remaining Silent is the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Case
In the wake of each sexual assault incident on campus, university administrators and prosecutors are expected to find and punish the culprits. The problem is that many sexual assaults occur out of sight of witnesses, making investigating and prosecuting these cases extremely difficult.
Invoke your right to remain silent when campus officials or police question you unless your attorney is present or gives the okay. Otherwise, you might say something self-incriminating that could be used against you.
How to Handle College Rape Allegations in North Carolina
College rape cases are complicated because the suspect often faces a battle on two fronts: one with the university and the other with state authorities. As a result of a disciplinary hearing with your school, you could lose your scholarships and get suspended. These penalties pale in comparison to the criminal consequences of a North Carolina sexual assault conviction.
It would be best if you did not attempt to defend yourself at a college disciplinary board hearing without the counsel of an experienced lawyer. Ideally, you should consult with an attorney who can defend you on both fronts. Do not let the prospect of sanctions from your university blind you to the possibility of facing criminal prosecution.
Challenging the Allegations Against You
Prosecutors understand that to obtain a conviction, they need good evidence. The testimony of an alleged victim is generally not enough evidence to bring a sexual assault case to trial. Typically, prosecutors need corroborating statements from reliable witnesses and, more importantly, forensic evidence such as bodily fluid and hair found on the victim or their clothing.
Build a Defense Strategy Against the Allegations
It is possible for the prosecution to have significant evidence against you – even if you are innocent. This is usually the case when you had consensual relations with the alleged victim, which they later characterized as non-consensual.
These scenarios can be confusing. But it is essential to remain calm and not make statements in your defense until you speak with an attorney. It may be possible for a lawyer to show that the sex was consensual by:
- Presenting text messages that suggest that you and the victim were in a consensual relationship
- Cross-examining the victim or otherwise discrediting their testimony
- Presenting testimony from people familiar with your relationship with the victim
You may also be prosecuted even when no sex occurred between you and the victim. Sometimes, the forensic analysis of samples collected from the victim after the assault can lead investigators astray. It is not uncommon for DNA tests to point to someone other than the actual perpetrator, especially when medical staff and lab personnel fail to follow proper protocols in collecting, labeling, storing, and analyzing samples.
Contact a Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys, will thoroughly review the prosecutor’s evidence and determine ways of challenging it. Additionally, we may conduct our own investigation into the facts of your case. Finally, we will help you exercise your constitutional rights at every stage of the criminal justice process and fight to get the best outcome possible under the circumstances.