The majority of colleges and universities have their own codes of conduct and disciplinary committees, so it’s not uncommon for students who have violated their schools’ codes to find themselves facing suspensions or expulsions rather than criminal charges. Does that mean that disorderly conduct that occurs on campus is somehow fundamentally different from disorderly conduct that occurs off the school’s grounds, though? Sadly, there is no quick and easy answer to this question.
Every school defines conduct violations differently and every school has a different process for handling them. Some refer to these kinds of incidents immediately to the local police, while others allow students to face internal disciplinary proceedings. The best way to get a solid answer to the question of how disorderly conduct accusations will be handled is to refer to the school’s written code of conduct. Students and parents of students can also find answers to some of the questions they may have below.
What is Considered Disorderly Conduct?
As noted above, every school defines code violations differently. A general legal definition of disorderly conduct is that it consists of any actions that disturb the peace of a community or endanger the morals, health, or safety of its members. Most people charged with this minor infraction face fines, rather than jail time, but there are situations in which you could be charged with a misdemeanour and even face jail time.
When it occurs off-campus, more specific definitions of disorderly conduct still vary significantly from one legal jurisdiction to another. In some places, swearing in public may be considered disorderly conduct. In other towns, just causing a crowd to gather in any public place may cause you to be charged with disorderly conduct. In Connecticut, disorderly conduct is charged as a Class C misdemeanour under Sec. 53a-182 of Chapter 952 of the state’s penal code.
What is the Punishment for Disorderly Conduct?
Just like every school defines this code violation differently, they all have different punishments, as well. Most students facing internal disciplinary proceedings will not have charges brought against them in criminal courts, but it is not impossible for this to come up.
How Can Students Fight These Charges?
Whether you are being officially charged or they are only facing internal code violations, you should get yourself prepared to fight them in advance. The first thing readers who are facing internal charges should do is to check out their university discipline guides. They should contain information about the disciplinary process and the rights of students who are being charged with code violations.
If your school has gotten the local police involved, it’s always best to hire a lawyer. Those facing minor punishments like temporary suspensions or submitting written apologies imposed by an internal disciplinary committee may be able to defend themselves successfully. When the courts get involved, though, there will be a lot more to lose and even the smartest students aren’t generally equipped with adequate knowledge of the law to defend themselves in a real courtroom.
What is the Next Step?
If you’re dealing with disorderly conduct charges, the best things you can do is to begin preparing in advance and stay out of trouble in the meantime. Whether you are facing your school’s disciplinary committee or you have been charged with a misdemeanour, it’s best that you keep a low profile and get help immediately.