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What Happens if a Teacher Starts a Relationship With a Student?

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Reports of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students and the subsequent criminal cases have been widely circulated in the media. These cases have frequently resulted in serious criminal punishments for teachers convicted of these inappropriate relationships. Although many people know that these actions are against the law, they may not know exactly what happens when one of these relationships takes place.

It is important to note that the criminal penalties that are often the result of inappropriate student-teacher relationships are based on laws that criminalize child abuse. Because relationships between students and teachers usually involve adults and minors under 18, cases are often prosecuted by utilizing child abuse accusations. However, criminal penalties can still apply in cases involving students who are 18 years of age.

What Happens if a Teacher Starts a Relationship With a Student?

There is a distinct line that separates an acceptable student-teacher relationship from an inappropriate one in the eyes of the justice system. As far as the legal system is concerned, that line is crossed when a student and teacher engage in any form of sexual activity.

A teacher who engages in sexual activity with a student, even a student that is 18 years of age, is violating specific statutes within the law. There are laws in place that prohibit sexual contact between adults and minors but there are also laws that specifically refer to sexual relationships between school employees and students.

Additionally, schools may have their own rules and policies that prohibit sexual conduct between teachers and students.

Penalties for Student-Teacher Sexual Relationships

Teachers who engage in sexual relationships with their students can face grave consequences for their actions if they are discovered. Such behavior can bring a charge of “Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student“. The penalties for this charge are severe and can include:

  • Conviction on a second-degree felony offense charge.
  • A term of confinement from two to 20 years in state or federal prison.
  • A fine of up to $10,000.
  • Loss of teaching position or credentials and a permanent ban from obtaining any new teaching jobs.

It is also illegal in most jurisdictions for teachers to discuss explicit sexual conduct with their students online or through text messages, or to exchange material depicting such conduct. The only instance when this type of behavior is legally permissible is if the student is the spouse of the educator.

Anyone facing charges of improper relationships between an educator and a student should contact an attorney immediately. These charges are very serious and require a serious legal defense. An experienced attorney may be able to help the defendant seek a less severe sentence.

For more information, contact attorney Brett A. Podolsky at 713.227.0087.


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