Criminal Offenses Attorney
If you have been accused of sexual assault or sexual misconduct on the campus of a college or university, you will go through the process of a Title IX investigation. One of the first things that the Title IX investigator will do after making initial contact and informing you that there are sexual misconduct allegations against you is to try to schedule a time to perform an interview with you.
At the time of the interview, it is likely that the investigator would not have informed you of anything more than the general nature of the allegations. You may not yet know who your accuser is or what your accuser has claimed you have done.
So, the question is, should you voluntarily participate in this interview with a Title IX investigator?
The only hard and fast rule regarding participation in a Title IX interview is that you should not participate in an interview with a Title IX investigator until you have had an opportunity to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling Title IX matters. When you consult with an attorney, there are a number of factors that the attorney will consider in making a determination about whether or not you should participate in the interview.
First, the attorney will consider what is known about the allegations at that point. The more that is known about the allegations, the more informed your decision about whether or not to participate in the interview will be. If very little is known about the accuser or the allegations, that tends to weigh against participation.
Second, the attorney will consider whether or not criminal charges are likely as a result of the allegations. While the consequences that may be imposed by a college or university as a result of a Title IX investigation are serious, they pale in comparison to the consequences of a sexual assault conviction in the criminal justice system. A criminal conviction will likely result in prison time and mandatory sex offender registration. Therefore, protecting yourself against criminal prosecution is likely going to be a high priority, and may cause you to favor refusing to participate in a Title IX interview.
Third, your ability to advocate for yourself and tell your own story will be taken into consideration. While your attorney can assist you in a Title IX proceeding, the schools often have rules that don’t permit the attorney to speak on your behalf the same way that the lawyer could do for you in court. If you come across as nervous, hyper, not credible, or negatively in some other way, participation in the interview is a bad idea.
Fourth, you and your lawyer will consider what is at stake, and have to weigh the risks and benefits to an interview carefully. Often, you will be facing severe sanctions from the school, such as suspension or expulsion. You also may stand to lose scholarships, jobs, housing, and tuition. Sometimes submitting to an interview can be helpful; sometimes it can put the nail in your coffin. You need to spend time discussing all of the facts of your case with an attorney so that you can make the best decision possible.
There is not an easy or simple answer to whether or not you should participate in a Title IX interview. The best thing that you can do is to consult with a sex crime lawyer who is experienced in handling Title IX matters, and take the advice of your attorney.