Title IX & Student Conduct Code Blog

Duffy Law

Defending Students Who Make Threats of Harm

Tensions are high on school campuses across the United States when it comes to threats of violence on school grounds. It seems no one is safe these days, whether in an elementary school, a high school, or a university. However, more threats are made on college campuses than you may be aware of, as such threats dont always make headlines. Instead, a college may handle cases involving violent threats quietly and internally. This does not mean that the student accused of making threats will not face potentially serious consequences.

If you stand accused of making threats to a school, a classmate, or a school employee, whether in court (where you could lose your freedom) or in a conduct code case (where you can lose scholarships or face expulsion), your future is at stake. Hire a lawyer who knows how to fight against college conduct code violations. Contact the attorneys at Duffy Law at (203) 946-2000 or contact us online now.

Strict Policies Against Threats

With social media, email, text messaging, and other messaging apps, it becomes easier and easier for young people to bully and harass one another. Increasingly, such communications can evolve into threats of violence against other student or college faculty. It is often much easier to hit send on a threatening message than it is to deliver threats in person. Schools are taking threats more and more seriously – no matter how the threat was delivered.

Many schools have formed threat assessment teams and zero-tolerance policies regarding threatening behaviors. Colleges and universities are including strict policies against threats in their codes of conduct. For example:

  • Yale University – Prohibits any act that threatens the use of violence or physical force.
  • Oberlin College – Prohibits conduct that might reasonably be regarded as a threat to the physical safety, health, or well-being of another individual or individuals.
  • New York University – Prohibits acts of aggression (e.g., causing or threatening injury to ones person or property, physical or verbal intimidation, damaging personal/University property).

These are only three examples of many, many schools that expressly prohibit threats of violence in their codes of conduct.

Whether you are accused of sending a threatening text to another student, threatening to hurt a faculty member if they didnt change your grade, or threatening widespread violence (such as bomb or shooting threat), you can face serious sanctions by your school. Consequences can include suspension, expulsion, or even criminal charges. It is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced college code defense law firm to ensure your rights are fully protected.

Defending Against Allegations of Making Threats

College students are known for pranks and jokes, as well as less-than-stellar decision-making at certain times. This combination can lead students to make statements to others without realizing the possible consequences. For example, a student accused of making a threat may claim they were simply letting off steam, kidding, or that they lost their temper in the moment but never really meant what they said. Others may try to excuse their behavior by claiming they were intoxicated or that they were in the middle of a fight or an emotionally-charged romantic break-up.

Students may think such explanations or excuses are enough to get them out of trouble, though schools are rejecting such explanations more and more. These excuses do not actually excuse the behavior and colleges will proceed with disciplinary action against the threatening student. Some schools focus on the effect the threat had on the recipient – did the threat cause them fear for their safety? Other schools may examine whether the person making the threat could foresee the effects the threat had. If a threat is serious enough, some colleges may even report it to the local authorities and charges of terroristic threats may be issued.

Consult an Experienced College Defense Lawyer as Soon as Possible

The standards are different for each institution and the consequences of being found guilty of making threats can be severe. Simply claiming that a threat was in jest is not sufficient to protect yourself from disciplinary action. You need legal representation from an attorney who regularly defends against college code violations and who can advise you of your rights and options at your particular school. Please do not hesitate to call the attorneys at Duffy Law at (203) 946-2000 or contact us online to get started on your case today.

Felice Duffy

Felice Duffy

Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.
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