If you are now or may become an accused student in a UJC case, this page provides same basic information for you. If you have been assigned a UJC counselor, they should be your primary point of contact for any questions you may have. If you have not yet been assigned a counselor, you can contact any member of the Executive Committee for more clarification.
Cases originate when an individual (such as a UVa dean) submits a complaint to the UJC. The Committee reviews these complaints weekly and accepts those that fall within its jurisdiction, without prejudicial determination of guilt. After the UJC accepts a complaint, it becomes a case and is assigned a unique case number.
If a case against you is accepted, you will receive an email from the UJC notifying you. Your notice will identify the Complainant and the charges against you. At this point, you can also log into the UJC's online system (NetBadge login required) and view the full case details. Soon after, a trial will be scheduled and you will be notified of its date, time, and location. You will also be assigned a UJC counselor by default, who will reach out to you directly to guide you through the process. Your counselor will want to meet with you to discuss your case, collect demographic data, sign any necessary paperwork, and answer your questions. Finally, the UJC investigator on the case will want to meet with you to solicit your input in the course of compiling an objective report of the alleged incident.
The trial room is arranged similarly to a courtroom. You will sit with your counsel, facing the Trial Panel of 5 judges who will hear your case. When called to testify, you will approach the Panel and sit facing them for the duration of your testimony and cross examination. In the room for your trial will be 5 judges (including the Trial Chair), your counselor(s), the Complainant and their counselor(s), any witnesses, and the investigator assigned to the case. Additionally, you may choose to invite whomever you wish to the trial, provided that they identify themselves and their affiliation to the University on the record. By default, it is a closed hearing since the UJC is required by federal law to keep all case information and hearings strictly confidential unless otherwise directed in writing by the Accused. All participants at trial are required to maintain strict confidentiality during and after the proceedings, and violations can be prosecuted by the UJC and/or Honor Committee.
Every trial begins with an introductory statement given by the Trial Chair, who will preside over the proceedings. The statement outlines the procedures governing the trial, which include the Honor Code obligating wholly truthful testimony. After this statement, the Trial Chair will ask you the following questions:
- Have you had adequate time to prepare for your case?
- Have you been advised of your right to counsel?
- Have you been informed of your right to call witnesses?
- Are there any judges sitting before you whom you feel are unable to be fair and unbiased in this proceeding?
Provided you answer these questions in a manner that permits the trial to proceed, the Trial Chair will ask you how you plead to the charges against you. You must answer “guilty” or “not guilty” to each of the Standards of Conduct with which you have been charged. Depending on your plea, the hearing will either move into a Trial for Guilt (for a “not guilty” plea) or into a Trial for Sanction (for a “guilty” plea). Both proceedings follow the basic format below:
- Opening statements will be made by counselors from both sides.
- The Complainant will present their case, including any witnesses or evidence. Your counselor will have the opportunity to cross examine.
- You and your counselor will then have the opportunity to present your case, present your own evidence, and call your own witnesses.
- Closing statements will be made by counselors from both sides.
- Everyone will leave the trial room while the judges deliberate.
- A Trial for Guilt that results in a finding of guilt will then move to a Trial for Sanction, which follows these same steps; a finding of no guilt will terminate the trial instantly. At the conclusion of a Trial for Sanction, any resulting sanctions will be announced.
For any procedural questions in advance of the trial, please do not hesitate to contact your counselor or the Vice Chair for Trials. This web page contains general guidelines and is not authoritative. The ultimate sources for UJC procedure are its Constitution and By-Laws, which can be accessed on the Documents and Forms page.
Am I going to be involved in a case?
The UJC reviews complaints filed with it every week. If a complaint alleges a violation within the UJC's jurisdiction, it will be accepted and turned into a case. When a complaint is accepted and becomes a case, both the Complainant and the Accused are notified. Cases each have a unique case number assigned.
Who are the Complainant and the Accused?
The individual who originally filed a complaint with the UJC becomes by default the plaintiff in any ensuing litigation; the UJC terms this individual the Complainant. The students or student organizations accused in the complaint become the defendant in any ensuing litigation; the UJC terms all such parties the Accused.
What is the difference between a UJC case and an FYJC case?
Cases against most students and all student organizations are heard by the UJC, where UJC Representatives serve as the judges at trial. In cases against first-year students, however, a subcommittee known as the FYJC hears the case and first-year FYJC Representatives serve as judges. Cases in both systems are processed identically; the only difference is the identity of the judges at trial.
Will my case go to trial?
Most cases are ultimately resolved in a trial. Some cases are dropped before trial, in the event that the Complainant chooses to drop all charges. Other cases are resolved via a trial alternative known as a Hearing Panel.
What is a Hearing Panel?
A Hearing Panel is alternative case resolution mechanism which does not involve a trial. More information about Hearing Panels is available on the Hearing Panels page.
What is the difference between Trial for Guilt and Trial for Sanction?
Trial procedure in the UJC system splits the hearing into two distinct phases: a Trial for Guilt and a Trial for Sanction. Although each phase follows the same format, the Trial for Guilt focuses strictly on whether or not the alleged events occurred, and if so, whether these events are in violation of the specific standards that have been charged. The Trial for Guilt is skipped if the Accused pleads guilty to all charges.
If the Accused is found guilty of at least one charge, the hearing proceeds to a Trial for Sanction. In this phase, the parties discuss any mitigating or aggravating factors surrounding the incident. During the Trial for Sanction, the counselors may discuss past disciplinary records, character patterns, extracurricular involvements, psychological distress, and other extenuating circumstances. The Trial for Sanction also provides the Accused with an opportunity to express what they have learned from the incident. The purpose of the Trial for Sanction is to arrive at an educational yet appropriate sanction, aligned with the goals of the UJC.
What happens during questioning?
During a trial, both the Complainant and the Accused have the opportunity to call any witnesses they would like, including themselves. Witnesses will be asked questions first by the counselor representing their side; this is called direct examination. Opposing counsel has the ability to ask questions of these witnesses, too; this is called cross examination. Additionally, the judges of the Trial Panel may ask questions of any witness called. The tenets of the Honor System are in effect during all UJC proceedings, and violations can be prosecuted by the UJC and/or Honor Committee.
Do I have the right to 'plead the 5TH' and not answer a question?
Yes. You have the right not to give any statement that you feel may incriminate you, but it is important to note that unlike in the U.S. criminal justice system, during a UJC proceeding the Trial Panel may make any inference that they wish from such a refusal and it may be negative.
What is a Rights and Responsibilities (R&R) Form or other paperwork I am being asked to sign?
Before trial, you may be asked to sign one or more documents. The Rights & Responsibilities (R&R) Form is a common form signed by every Accused in every UJC case. Signing this form does not waive any of your rights, nor add any responsibilities. It simply acknowledges that you have been notified of all the information contained therein. You may review standard versions of all UJC forms on the Documents and Forms page.
Who are the judges?
The Trial Panel is made up of 5 judges, one of which is the Trial Chair who will conduct the proceeding and is a member of the UJC’s Executive Committee. The other 4 judges are either UJC Representatives or FYJC Representatives, depending on the case. With the exception of the Trial Chair, the judges are unaware of any of the details of your case before the trial begins. You have the right at the beginning of the trial to object to any member of the Trial Panel that you feel may not be completely fair and unbiased during your case.
Can I have an open trial?
Yes. The UJC is required by federal law to keep all case information and hearings strictly confidential unless the Accused provides explicit, written consent otherwise. Should you choose to waive your right to confidentiality, a trial open to the public is an option.
What sanction will I receive?
There are neither codified nor established sanctions for specific offenses, and the Trial Panel has unlimited leeway in crafting a sanction. The Panel considers the circumstances of the incident, the Accused's past record, and other evidence presented during the proceedings to craft a sanction that is uniquely appropriate for each student in each situation.
What should I wear to trial?
Officers of the UJC wear business formal attire to trial to foster an atmosphere of respect and gravity. If you have business formal clothing, you are encouraged to wear it if you would like. The UJC recognizes, however, that not everyone has access to formal clothing, especially while at college. In that case, you can wear whatever you feel best in.
Who may represent me?
Any currently enrolled student at UVa may represent you in trial, or you may choose to represent yourself. A UJC counselor will be assigned to you by default. They have been extensively trained and are well informed regarding UJC protocol. You may not have a professional lawyer or any other person who is not a currently enrolled UVa student represent you at trial, though they may be present as an observer.
May I appeal the decision of the Trial Panel?
Yes. You may appeal the Trial Panel’s decision either to the Judicial Review Board (JRB) in UJC cases, or to the UJC itself in FYJC cases. Procedures for these appellate processes are available on the Documents and Forms page. There are three grounds for appeal: unduly harsh sanctions, new evidence that could have changed the outcome of the trial and was not available before the trial, or procedural error that was detrimental to your case. Appeals must be made in writing within two weeks of the Trial Panel’s original decision and you must provide the UJC with a copy of your appeal.
How do I complete my sanctions?
If you have received sanctions from the UJC, they should specify the method of completion and any deliverables. Any questions should be directed to the Vice Chair for Sanctions, whose contact information is on the Executive Committee page.