Appendix A: Options and Frequently Asked Questions
Students have a number of options to consider when they have been involved in sexual and relationship misconduct incident. A student can choose any and all of the options listed here. The options are noted as follows:
- option for medical attention, and
- reporting options that include
- campus Student Code of Community Conduct violation charges,
- request campus "No Contact" condition,
- criminal prosecution option,
- option for civil suit,
- request for civil restraining orders/personal protection orders,
- advocacy options. and
- counseling/healing/living options.
Options for Reporting
Student Code of Community Conduct
What are campus student conduct charges?
The University prohibits sexual and relationship misconduct in its Code of Community Conduct and Sexual and relationship misconduct Policy. Initiating Code of Community Conduct violation procedures allows the student to have the University render a disciplinary decision on whether the accused student has violated one or more of the regulations identified under the sexual and relationship misconduct policy.
How do I report a complaint to the campus student conduct system?
A complaint can be reported at the Office of Student Conduct Services by a person who was the target of the sexual and relationship misconduct, a witness of the possible misconduct, or a community member who may have knowledge of the sexual and relationship misconduct. Charges can be initiated by the Office of Student Conduct Services from reports submitted to Department of Public Safety and Police Services, Residence Life, Affirmative Programs, Counseling and Wellness Services, faculty, and coaches, and any administrator who refers a case to the Office of Student Conduct Services.
Who can initiate a campus complaint for disciplinary action and against whom?
Campus charges can be initiated against a student by another student or by a non-student against a student arising out of sexual and relationship misconduct that occurs on or off-campus, during and between academic terms, including summer breaks, as long as the student being accused is presently enrolled. Charges may be filed against a student who graduated if the sexual and relationship misconduct occurred prior to graduation. Charges may be filed by graduated students against current students.
What if my complaint is against a member of the faculty, staff, or administration?
You can report a complaint to the Office of Affirmative Programs and/or Department of Public Safety and Police Services.
Is the campus student conduct process confidential?
If campus charges are filed, complete confidentiality cannot be maintained. Campus police will usually be asked to investigate, including contacting and interviewing potential witnesses. Hearing officers involved in hearing the case will know, as will members of an appeal panel. All of these people will keep confidentiality to the best of their ability and duties. After a hearing has concluded, the hearing officers must report non-personal identifying information to the director of Department of Public Safety and Police Services in order to meet annual federal campus crime statistic reporting requirements. Within two days of a report, basic details of an incident are available to the public in the campus police log. No names are given, and facts that could lead to the identity of the student who was the target of the sexual and relationship misconduct are not disclosed. Campus conduct hearings are not open to the public. Arrest records, however, are not confidential.
Q: What will happen if I pursue campus charges?
A: Campus cases are heard and resolved much more quickly than criminal charges or civil suits, often going from the filing of charges to resolution in six weeks or less. Temporary suspensions and/or campus "No Contact" orders of accused students to protect you and other students are possible in the interim. Campus sanctions for sexual and relationship misconduct range from warnings to expulsion.
Is this like filing criminal charges?
No. Campus cases may be easier to prove than criminal charges, because the standard of proof (the amount of evidence required to convince hearing officers) is lower. Filing campus charges does not prevent you from also filing criminal charges and/or civil suits. Campus charges cannot result in imprisonment. Witnesses may be called at the campus hearing, for both you and the accused student. You can also refuse to be a witness. In certain cases, the University may pursue charges without your assistance or cooperation, when it is necessary to resolve a case in order to protect the community from a student who poses a threat to others.
"No Contact" Conditions
What is a campus "No Contact" condition?
A campus "No Contact" condition is a warning to students to keep a certain distance from, or a prohibition from contact with, each other. "No Contact" conditions are available to students when necessary to protect them. The campus "No Contact" condition applies to both the student who complains and the student the complaint is lodged against. Failure to comply with a campus "No Contact" condition can result in disciplinary charges and possible dismissal.
How do I get a campus "No Contact" condition?
They can be issued by Student Conduct Services staff when needed. You can contact a staff member in Student Conduct Services to request a campus "No Contact" condition.
What happens if a student violates a campus "No Contact" condition?
The University would initiate Code of Community Conduct violation charges against the student for the violation, with appropriate punishment resulting if a violation is found.
Criminal Prosecution Option
How do I initiate criminal charges?
You can choose to pursue a full legal investigation. Once evidence has been collected by law enforcement supporting the allegation that a crime has been committed you will have the right to file criminal charges with the prosecuting attorney's office. If you decide to file criminal charges, the results of the investigation will be released to the prosecuting attorney. If the incident occurred on-campus, the campus Department of Public Safety and Police Services would conduct the investigation. You may also contact the Houghton County Prosecuting Attorney to initiate charges. If the incident occurred off-campus, you must contact the police in the jurisdiction where the incident occurred. If you need help determining the proper police agency, contact the campus Department of Public Safety and Police Services for assistance in determining the proper police agency.
Can criminal charges be filed even if I don't want them to be?
Yes, in certain circumstances, a prosecuting attorney could prosecute a case that you do not want to be prosecuted. You are not a party to the prosecution. A sex crime is a crime against the state: prosecution is done in the name of the state, not the student.
Does it matter when I file criminal charges?
Prosecutions are most successful in cases when you report the assault to authorities as quickly as possible. Michigan has a seven (7) year statute of limitations on reporting and prosecuting rape. Normally, criminal charges cannot be filed more than seven (7) years after the incident occurred.
If I prosecute, how long will it take?
Investigations can sometimes take weeks or months to complete. Criminal prosecutions can take years to get from the filing of charges to the end of the final appeal. This is not meant to discourage, but to give a realistic perspective of the criminal justice system.
Are prosecutions confidential?
Criminal rape prosecutions in Michigan are closed to the public when the student makes this request at the preliminary hearing. The name of the student is protected from release, but people involved in the prosecution would know about it, as would witnesses. Otherwise, the proceedings can be open to the public.
If the prosecution is successful, what will happen?
Nationally, sentences for rape average 12 years, with 7-8 years served. However, other (unwanted touching, penetration) sexual assault convictions result in shorter sentences than do rape convictions. Criminal convictions for sexual assault can result in fines, jail time, community service, probation, and other punishments.
How hard is it to win the case?
Criminal rape convictions must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, a very high standard. Many rapists charged plead to a lesser charge and thus do not end in a sexual assault conviction of rape. Criminal trials are decided by juries, so every case is different and the outcome is hard to predict.
How much does it cost to prosecute?
Criminal prosecution is free if the prosecuting attorney decides to take your case.
If I choose to prosecute, do I have to be there?
Normally, students provide testimony as witnesses and provide the main evidence against the defendant. However, you need not always participate in the trial to get a conviction, and this is something you should discuss further with the prosecuting attorney.
Will this prosecution put me on trial?
The defendant's attorneys may try to make it look like it was your fault, and may try to call your character into question. However, irrelevant evidence of a student's past sexual history is generally inadmissible in court.
If the incident happened on campus, can I still prosecute?
Yes, Michigan courts have jurisdiction over cases that occur on campus.
If I prosecute, do I still have other options?
Filing criminal charges does not prevent you from also filing campus charges and/or civil suits.
Civil Suit Option
How is this different than a prosecution?
You can initiate a civil suit against a perpetrator to seek monetary damages and other civil remedies (not imprisonment).
Is this option exclusive of other options?
No, filing a civil suit does not prevent the filing of campus charges and/or criminal charges.
How do I exercise this option?
You can initiate a civil suit by contacting an attorney. Attorneys can be found in the phone book, or by contacting Legal Services of Northern Michigan at 482-3908.
How much does a civil suit cost?
Filing a civil suit is usually free. The attorney typically gets paid if he or she wins; you may have to pay for some expenses if you lose.
How long do I have to exercise this option?
Civil suits can be filed up to two years after the date of the incident.
Is there an advantage to this option?
Winning a civil suit is often easier than winning a criminal trial.
Is there a disadvantage to this option?
Yes, suing a student can be complicated, because they don't often have the money to pay a judgment against them.
How long will a civil suit take?
Resolving a civil suit can take up to several years.
Will a civil suit be confidential?
No, civil suits are not confidential and may be open to the public.
Civil Restraining Order/Personal Protective Orders
What is this option?
A restraining/protective order is a legal order issued by a magistrate or judge, ordering someone to physically stay away from you and/or avoid all contact with you. Restraining orders do not physically prevent anything, it just gives police power to enforce and arrest when an order is violated. They often have time expirations. Restraining orders can be no-contact orders or distance-based (a restricted distance of 100 yards at all times).
Where do I get one?
You can obtain it from a civil magistrate or judge in the locality where the person to be restrained is located.
How do I get one?
The judge will hold a hearing, and you will give testimony to show cause for the need for protection. You can seek assistance from police, the Office of Student Affairs or Dial-Help.
Who can I contact as an advocate of a sexual and relationship misconduct complaints handled in the court system?
S.A.R.T. is a free service, with trained professionals in advocacy, forensic medical exams and sensitive law enforcement interviews. S.A.R.T. can be activated by calling 911, Dial Help (482-HELP), the local hospital emergency room or any law enforcement agency.
What are my on-campus options?
There are licensed counselors on campus at Counseling and Wellness Services. Their phone number is 487-2538. Meetings are confidential and free of charge. Counselors are available on a 24-hour emergency basis by contacting Department of Public Safety and Police Services (campus police) at 487-2216.
What if this incident affects my academic performance?
Parties in sexual and relationship misconduct cases may see that their academic performance is affected by the stress associated with the incident. The Office of Student Affairs will verify to instructors and academic support persons that highly unusual circumstances exist and they will suggest appropriate accommodations such as extended deadlines on course work and make-up exams. You may also choose to contact your instructor directly.
What if I am uncomfortable with returning to live in my residence hall room as a result of this incident of sexual and relationship misconduct?
You can request to relocate to another room on campus or request that we relocate the accused student to another location on campus (if reasonable and space is available). A campus "No Contact" condition can also restrict cafeteria use (time and /or place) and movement of either party through the residence halls.
What are my off-campus options?
Off-campus options include contacting Dial Help, Inc. (482-HELP), the 24-hour, nationwide RAINN Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE), clergy, private therapists (counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, etc.), family and friends, and Internet resources such as on-line support groups.