Honor Code Sanctions & Operating Procedures
Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyers on Your Side
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) students who are accused of violating the Instrument of Student Judicial Governance, also known as the university’s Honor Code, can be subject to hearings before the university’s Honor Court or University Hearings Board. Many of these cases stem from conduct that resulted in criminal charges.
The university may impose any number of sanctions with extremely harsh consequences for students. In cases involving criminal charges, it is important to remember that enforcement of the Honor Code is intended to “supplement, rather than substitute for the enforcement of the civil and criminal law applicable at large,” so a UNC-Chapel Hill student may be sanctioned by the university in addition to other sanctions under local, state, or federal law.
Contact us today to get in touch with a Raleigh criminal defense lawyer from Clifford Law Group, PLLC.
UNC-Chapel Hill Honor Code Sanctions Lawyer
It can be disorienting enough for a student to try and navigate the legal maze that follows when he or she is facing criminal charges, but the possibility of additional sanctions by his or her university only adds to the confusion.
If you are a UNC-Chapel Hill student who was recently arrested for a criminal offense, you do not have to try and deal with these problems by yourself. Clifford Law Group not only fights for UNC-Chapel Hill students in court, but our attorneys also provide legal counsel to help minimize any sanctions of harm to their academic careers.
We can review your case as soon as you call (919) 842-5461 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Guiding Principles for UNC-Chapel Hill Sanctions
A central mission of UNC-Chapel Hill involves students who have violated the Honor Code learning to take responsibility and learning from their mistakes. Sanctions are intended to strike a balance of student development and protection of the university interests.
Some of the elements that play a role in determining sanctions include:
- Relevant Factors - The Honor Court shall take into account the following factors in imposing sanctions:
- The gravity of the offense in question
- The value of learning through experience
- The importance of equitable treatment for similar offenses
- Other compelling circumstances
- Instructor Recommendations - A course instructor's grade recommendation is binding upon the Honor Court in cases involving academic dishonesty.
- Flexibility and Available Sanctions - The Honor Court is allowed to impose any combination of sanctions it deems appropriate, so long as they do not conflict with other provisions of the Honor Code.
- The Importance of Honesty -If the Honor Court or any member of the Honor System staff believes that a student has furnished false information in connection with any and all Honor System proceedings, the matter will be referred to the applicable Student Attorney General, who may charge the student with an additional violation of the Honor Code.
UNC-Chapel Hill Individual Sanctions
The following sanctions alone or in combination may be imposed on an individual student in connection with a violation of the Honor Code:
- Failing Grade ("XF" grade or some other failing grade)
- Educational Assignment
- Other Requirements
- Drug or Alcohol Suspension
- Drug or Alcohol Probation
- Behavior Management
- "No Contact" Orders
- Community Service
- Other Requirements
Loss of privileges
- Participation on or in athletic teams, activities or organizations sponsored by or representing the university, or recruitment of new members, induction in, or continuing membership in any student organization
- Attendance at campus events or sports activities
- Use of UNC-Chapel Hill facilities or resources including but not limited to parking or driving an automobile on campus, residing in university residence units, or using privileges relating to information technology, computers, or telecommunications
- Representation of the university or its affiliated organizations as a tour guide, intern, researcher, or otherwise
- Receipt of special recognition or distinction including but not limited to any award, prize, or other recognition bestowed by the university, or a fellowship or assistantship that permits the student to act on behalf of the university
Penalties of Record
These sanctions are reflected both on a student's academic transcript (during the period they are in effect) and in a student's disciplinary records. These penalties include:
- Disciplinary Probation - Student may remain at UNC-Chapel Hill but could be required to satisfy specified conditions or requirements for a definite or indefinite period, report regularly to the Judicial Programs Officer, and be barred from holding any office or participating in certain activities.
- Disciplinary Suspension - May include:
- Suspension for a Definite or Indefinite Period - Student is removed from good standing and must leave UNC-Chapel Hill for a definite or indefinite period. Student can eventually return if applicable conditions are satisfied, but academic work completed at another institution during suspension period cannot be transferred toward a degree.
- Permanent Suspension - Student is removed from good standing and must leave the university permanently without an expectation that he or she may eventually return to the UNC-Chapel Hill student campus. A student who is permanently suspended is not barred from seeking admission to another UNC system university.
- Expulsion - Student is removed from the university permanently and may not be admitted to any UNC system university.
A student may also receive an official reprimand formally communicated by a letter giving the student notice that any subsequent Honor Code violation will carry more serious sanctions.
UNC-Chapel Hill Sanctions for Group Violations
The following sanctions may be imposed on groups in connection with violations of the Honor Code:
- Written warning
- Conduct sanctions including, but not limited to, educational activities, community service, payment of restitution, or other requirements
- Loss of group privileges including, but not limited to, activity restrictions, restrictions on participation, restrictions on use of university facilities, or loss of other privileges
- Sanctions affecting group status or charter, such as group probation, restricted status, or revocation of group charter or affiliation
NC-Chapel Hill Operating Procedures for Implementation of the Honor System
The Instrument details the following procedures relating to alleged Honor Code violations:
Reports of Possible Violations
- Initial Report - UNC-Chapel Hill community member who observes alleged Honor Code violation submits short, written report to the applicable Student Attorney General.
- Report of Academic Dishonesty Violation - Instructor who suspects that student has committed Honor Code violation relating to academic dishonesty submits an Academic Violation Report. The instructor may elect to meet with the student suspected of academic misconduct prior to submission of the Academic Violation Report, recommend appropriate sanctions from the sanctions available under the Honor Code, and possibly resolve the case through an informal resolution process in lieu of a hearing or further proceedings.
- Notice, Review, and Investigation - The applicable Student Attorney General reviews and investigates reports of Honor Code violations that have been referred by members of the UNC-Chapel Hill community, police authorities, or citizens outside the community. The Student Attorney General or Judicial Programs Officer then notifies the accused student once a report has been received.
Initiation of Charges
- Charge and Notice to Appear - The applicable Student Attorney General or his or her designee reviews the report of alleged misconduct and conducts a preliminary investigation prior to determining whether charges under the Honor Code should be filed. Charge determinations should be made within 30 days, although extensions of up to additional 60 days under exceptional circumstances are available with the concurrence of the Judicial Programs Officer.
- Preliminary Conference and Hearing Date - A preliminary conference should be scheduled between the Student Attorney General or his or her designee and the accused student at least 10 calendar days before an anticipated hearing date on the charges. In the Student Attorney General's discretion, he or she may also advise the accused student of the possibility of proceeding through an expedited hearing process rather than under the full hearing process. If a hearing date is not specified in the notice of the charge, written notice of the hearing date must be provided to the accused student at the preliminary conference or sent to the student, to be received not less than five calendar days before the proceeding is scheduled for hearing.
- Recommendation and Referral for Expedited Sanctioning in Instances in Which the Student Accepts Responsibility- The Student Attorney General may, in his or her discretion, and in consultation with the Judicial Programs Officer, determine that a matter should be referred to an Expedited Hearing Panel of the Honor Court rather than a full hearing, provided that all of the following conditions apply:
- Accused student admits fault and takes responsibility in writing for the conduct and related offense
- Evidence is sufficiently clear so that the student's guilt for the offense to be charged has been demonstrated without additional review
- Accused student agrees in writing to proceed before an Expedited Hearing Panel after receiving pertinent information about his or her rights under Code of Honor
- Student Attorney General submits a written recommendation and referral that addresses each of the conditions set forth above
- Relation to Action in State or Federal Courts - In instances when action is either pending or completed against a student in a state or federal court and when the interests of UNC-Chapel Hill are at issue, the Student Attorney General and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will make a determination as to whether the protection of the university's interests requires action by the university. If they cannot agree on the determination, the issue is decided by the Committee on Student Conduct.
- Academic Progression while Honor Court Case is Pending - Students may not graduate while they are subjects of Honor System cases.
Authority of the Honor Court
Different courts or the University Hearings Board may have authority over certain Honor Code matters:
- Undergraduate Honor Court - Hears all matters involving violations of the Honor Code that do not fall within the authority the other courts.
- Summer School Court - Authority to hear all matters that fall within the authority of the Undergraduate Honor Court during the summer session.
- Graduate and Professional Honor Court - Authority to hear all matters concerning alleged violations of the Honor Code by students who are enrolled in a degree program in the UNC-Chapel Hill's Graduate School or any other course in post-baccalaureate study.
- University Hearings Board - Authority to hear cases:
- Otherwise within the authority of the student courts when the appropriate Student Attorney General and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs determine that circumstances make such authority inappropriate as a result of verifiable medical or psychological complications, the inability of the student court to provide a speedy hearing, or other considerations that make the case inappropriate for hearing and decision by a student court.
- In which an accused student, with the concurrence of the appropriate Student Attorney General, requests in writing a University Hearings Board.
- In which a student charged under the Honor Code chooses to accept responsibility for his or her conduct and requests in writing an expedited hearing before the University Hearings Board rather than before an expedited hearing panel.
- Involving alleged violations of the Honor Code that would fall within the authority of any student court that has ceased to exist or cannot or does not exercise its authority to hear the matter.
Proceedings by Student Courts or University Hearings Board Panels Exercising Original Authority
Except in instances in which the Student Attorney General has recommended and the accused student has agreed in writing to proceed with an Expedited Hearing Panel, the following requirements shall apply:
- Composition of Hearing Panels -
- Academic Dishonesty Cases - Hearing panel comprised of five members, including a presiding officer selected from a pool composed of the chair and vice chairs from the pertinent court and four other Honor Court members, three of whom will be from the pertinent court selected at random and one of whom will be a faculty member drawn from the Faculty Hearings Board Panel.
- Non-Academic Dishonesty Cases - Hearing panel comprised of five members, including a presiding officer selected from a pool composed of the chair and vice chairs from the pertinent court and four other Honor Court members of the pertinent court selected at random.
- University Hearings Board Panels - Panels composed of two faculty members selected from among those serving on the Faculty Hearings Board Panel, one designee of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs (serving as Chair), and two students designated by the chair of the appropriate student court having authority with regard to the matter being heard.
- Participation in Hearing - All hearings pursuant to the Honor Code are closed unless the accused student requests in writing that the hearing be open. In cases involving undergraduate students, the member of the Student Attorney General's staff investigating the case and the accused student's counsel must be undergraduate students currently enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. In cases involving graduate or professional students, it is preferred, but not required, that the investigator and defense counsel be graduate or professional students enrolled in the same school or program as the accused student, otherwise the investigator or defense counsel must still be students currently enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. In any court, neither a licensed attorney nor a person who has passed a state bar examination may serve as the investigator or the defense counsel or be present during the proceedings in support of either.
- Respect for Impartiality - During the pendency of a proceeding or related deliberations, no interested party shall approach any member of the hearing panel other than at the panel's request. Any attempt to approach any member of the hearing panel inappropriately shall itself constitute a violation under this Instrument.
- Conduct of the Hearing. The hearing proceeds as follows:
- Recording of Proceedings and Security of Records - Presiding officer informs all participants that a record will be maintained of the proceedings.
- Student Response to Charge - Presiding officer states the charge in the presence of the accused student and other members of the hearing panel. The student can either accept responsibility, plead not guilty, move to terminate the hearing on grounds that the court or hearing panel lacks the authority to hear the case, or move to postpone the hearing on grounds that he or she has not received a written Notice to Appear, has not been fully informed of the charge and is unable to make an adequate defense, or has not been granted a properly conducted preliminary conference.
- Presentation of Charges - The appropriate Student Attorney General or his or her designee shall state the charges against the accused student, and present witnesses and written evidence or testimony in support of the charges.
- Access to Evidence and Witnesses - Both the representative of the appropriate Student Attorney General and the defense shall have the power to compel the appearance of persons from the UNC-Chapel Hill community who can provide substantial, relevant evidence or who can testify to the character of those involved in the matter charged.
- Questioning of Witnesses - All witnesses and parties may be questioned by the Student Attorney General or his or her designee, the accused student and his or her counsel, members of the hearing panel, and the complainant.
- Deliberations and Judgment - Immediately upon conclusion of the initial phase of the hearing, the hearing panel shall deliberate in private and determine whether the accused student or students have been shown by evidence that is clear and convincing to have violated the Honor Code as charged and determine the sanctions to be imposed. The steps following this deliberation include:
- Finding of Guilt - The hearing panel may reach one of the following judgments: not guilty, guilty, or guilty of a portion of the charges stated. In order to find a student guilty, at least three of the five members must vote guilty.
- Error in Initial Charge - The hearing panel could also determine that an error has been made in the charge against the student and may correct the error by rewriting the charge to conform to the appropriate charge, in which case the accused student has the option of having the existing panel deliberate upon the new charge or requesting a new hearing.
- Determination of Sanctions - In instances in which the hearing panel determines that the accused student is guilty or guilty in part, it shall determine the sanctions to be applied.
- Announcement and Transmittal of Judgment - When the hearing panel reaches its judgment, the presiding officer announces the judgment and sanctions in the presence of the accused student.
Students do have the right to appeal original proceedings based on the insufficiency of evidence, severity of sanctions, or violation of basic rights provided in the Honor Code.
Find a UNC-Chapel Hill Honor Code Operating Procedures Lawyer in Chapel Hill
While UNC-Chapel Hill limits the ability of licensed attorneys to directly participate in hearings, there can still be major benefits to seeking the advice of legal counsel if you have been accused of a UNC-Chapel Hill Honor Code violation.
Clifford Law Group helps students in these situations secure the most favorable outcomes to their student conduct cases. Our firm understands the significant effects criminal charges and these hearings can have on academic careers, and we will work to minimize or completely eliminate any possible damage to your future.
Our Raleigh criminal defense lawyers can review your case and help you understand all of your options when you call (919) 842-5461 today to set up a free consultation.
If you are facing a complex legal matter, it is vital that you retain the immediate representation of Clifford Law Group. The right attorney may make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Make the smart choice – enlist the supportive assistance of our Raleigh natives today.