What To Do When Arrested or Accused of a Crime at NYU, Columbia, Fordham – Or Any University – And Also Facing a School Discipline/Expulsion Proceeding

At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman we represent students at universities all over the country including New York universities Columbia University, NYU, and Fordham for both criminal charges and university-related disciplinary proceedings. We have also represented students across the country in campus-related criminal cases including in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey and North Carolina. These charges include Narcotics cases, Sex crimes and other crimes of violence. The question often asked is ‘why hire a top New York criminal defense attorney for an arrest at a college or university?’ The answer is that the stakes are much higher these days for campus-related misconduct and criminal charges: in today’s zero tolerance society, an accusation against a student could lead to suspension or even expulsion from the university and students and their parents often want the best criminal lawyer available in order to ensure that the student’s future isn’t destroyed – before it even starts. And the best criminal lawyer for crimes occurring on college campus is the best defense attorney for crimes occurring anywhere: just because the case stems from conduct occurring on a college campus does not mean that the potential jail sentence is reduced.

Students charged with crimes for campus conduct are prosecuted in the same courts as anyone else in that city or state – with the same penalties. Should the university bring disciplinary charges or move under Title IX of the 1972 Higher Education Amendments (the educational anti-discrimination law) you may be preparing for two trials: one at the university level which will determine possible discipline and another in a criminal court – except that the standard of proof for “conviction” for a Title IX claim is a “preponderance of the evidence.” This standard of evidence means that a hearing must only determine whether the incident was more likely than not to have occurred. This differs from a criminal prosecution in which the prosecutor must prove that the crime occurred “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a much tougher standard of evidence to achieve. Simply put, your chances of a negative finding by a trier of fact is greater at the university level than inside a criminal courtroom.

At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman, because of the high stakes, we treat a college arrest as if it were a federal criminal case. We do an exhaustive investigation of not only the incident alleged to have occurred but of the complainant and witnesses as well. Armed with the information we uncover, and combined with our decades of experience on some of most complicated and difficult federal and state criminal trials across the country, we can oftentimes achieve either a complete dismissal of the charges or a result which will not negatively impact the student’s standing at the university – or his or her future.

Some Recent Cases

In 2015, we represented two college students accused of rape. Ultimately in both cases, the universities did not so much as suspend the students and no criminal charges were brought, although the circumstances of each case were completely different. In one case, the student attended University of Alabama and was already being investigated by the Tuscaloosa Police Department for an alleged rape when we were retained. What seemed to be at a minimum a slam-dunk indictment for Rape in the First Degree – punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison – suddenly changed dramatically due to our intensive investigation of the complainant. We reviewed all of her social media on a daily basis, searched public records and spoke to people around her and ultimately convinced the criminal investigators to present our findings to the grand jury. While a grand jury has been famously described as being so pro-prosecution as to “indict a ham sandwich,” in this instance the grand jury voted not to indict and the case ended. This is an incredibly rare result of a criminal investigation, especially one with multiple purported witnesses and a complaining victim. Had our client been indicted, the best result for him would have been an acquittal following a very expensive trial years from now.  Instead, just months after hiring us, our client got his life back. As any of the best criminal lawyers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut – or even Alabama – would agree, this is an occurrence which might happen once in an attorney’s career. Instead, this is the sort of result at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman which we get frequently, because we treat each case, each investigation, as if it is life or death – because it is to our clients.

The other recent client of ours accused of rape was a student at Columbia University in New York who was being investigated for rape. Luckily, the client’s parents hired us before he had spoken to the New York Police Department detective who had been actively seeking to interview him, including showing up at his home and calling him on his cell phone. We counseled the student to not speak to law enforcement as it was clear to us that the detective was hoping to shore up a weak case by getting a confession – or at least to at obtain evidence to be used in a criminal prosecution. We spoke to the detective, instructed him to have no further contact with our client, pointed out the weak points of his case and made it very clear that should he make an arrest we would take the case to trial – a trial we would surely win for the reasons just explained. Such a promise would have held no weight had it not been for the fact that we have won so many difficult and high profile cases in New York, New Jersey and throughout the country. Our client was never arrested and he never heard from law enforcement again. This is the kind of result you hope for when you hire a top criminal lawyer: you simply want your criminal problem to go away and to get your life back.

So Contact a Columbia, NYU or Fordham Criminal Lawyer Today

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have represented students at Columbia, NYU, Fordham and other schools for over 25 years.  We understand how scary it is to be arrested or even accused of a crime while you’re in college — and how important it is to keep your criminal record and school disciplinary record clean for your future prospects.  Call a Columbia University criminal lawyer, NYU criminal lawyer or Fordham criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman at (212) 581-1001 and we will work as quickly as possible to put your problem behind you.