Trustworthy. Capable. Masterful.

Massachusetts Criminal Defense and Title IX Attorney

Offering criminal defense and university law practice with a deep understanding of today’s environment on college campuses.

Welcome to the Law Office of Ruth O’Meara-Costello

The Law Office of Ruth O’Meara-Costello provides thoughtful representation and experienced guidance to its clients facing potentially-life changing criminal or Title IX accusations.

Areas of Practice

Having the right representation is important, and having experienced representation is crucial. The Law Office of Ruth O’Meara-Costello is ready to take on criminal defense, Title IX, student conduct, and university faculty representation cases.

Case Results

Frequently Asked Questions

What can a lawyer do to help me in a Title IX case?


Under current regulations, complainants and respondents in Title IX cases are entitled to live hearings, at which their advisors can cross-examine witnesses and the opposing party. You are entitled to have an attorney as your advisor.

An attorney can also help prepare for parts of the hearing that they can’t personally conduct. Hearings are preceded by investigations in which you will be interviewed and have the chance to identify witnesses and evidence. Your lawyer can help you prepare for each stage of the case.

Can you help me in a disciplinary case if my school won’t let me have a lawyer at my hearing?


In a Title IX case, you have a right to have an advisor accompany you to all meetings and hearings, and that advisor can (and should) be a lawyer. In other campus disciplinary matters, your school may not permit you to have an advisor or may say that the advisor has to be a member of the university community and cannot be a lawyer.

While I always would rather be in the room for a hearing, I can help you prepare for a hearing, even if I am not able to be there with you, by advising you about strategy, helping you to prepare your response to the accusations and evidence, and preparing you to answer questions.

How will a criminal conviction affect my collegiate experience?


If you’re convicted of a criminal offense in college, not only will you face legal repercussions, but you can face disciplinary action from your educational institution as well. Additionally, getting convicted of a criminal offense can affect your ability to get financial aid, obtain employment, and obtain housing. Because of these repercussions, it’s important that if you’re being accused of criminal activity, you seek the help of an experienced attorney. Not only is it important that you don’t get convicted of a crime you might not have committed, but it’s equally important that your reputation at your educational institution isn’t jeopardized.

As a college professor, you’ll face repercussions if convicted of a criminal act, and additionally, obtaining future teaching positions can be much more difficult or impossible. It will also limit your ability to interact with your students and your colleagues which can be particularly devastating if you’ve been in the profession for a number of years.

Can my Title IX case be resolved using informal resolution?


Maybe! In the past, federal regulations discouraged the use of informal resolution in sexual misconduct matters. Now, that has changed and it is allowed, provided that a formal complaint is filed first and that the case is not between a student and an employee of the university. The regulations around Title IX are likely to change again in the near future, but probably informal resolution will still be allowed, perhaps with fewer restrictions.

However, informal resolution can only happen if both people involved—and the school—are willing to engage in that process, and it will only end the Title IX matter if everyone is able to actually agree on a solution. I am a big believer in the potential of informal resolution to meet the needs of all parties without the stress of going through an investigation and hearing, and I’m very heartened that more schools are starting to embrace the possibility of this model of dispute resolution.

Are Title IX cases different for faculty members than for students?


Yes and no. Schools generally have the same or similar Title IX procedures for faculty and students, but the possible consequences are different for faculty than for students. Tenured faculty may be entitled to additional procedural protections after a Title IX process has concluded if the school seeks certain forms of discipline, for example. Faculty members may also have fewer options to resolve a case informally. Both students and faculty may face collateral consequences if found responsible for a Title IX violation, including narrowed options for employment or study elsewhere, but the types of consequences, and strategies for mitigating them, vary widely depending on a respondent’s status and role within the university.

What should I expect if my criminal conviction is on appeal?


The appeal phase of a case is very different from the trial. On appeal, your lawyer will be looking for a strong legal issue and will try to convince an appeals court that you are entitled to a new trial or simply to a judgment of acquittal. The record on appeal includes the transcripts and evidence from your trial, and it is generally not possible to add new information or evidence at the appeals stage. (In some cases, your attorney might choose to try filing a motion for a new trial in order to expand the record.) The first stage of an appeal actually involves just preparing the trial transcripts and assembling the record for the appeals court, a process that can be quite time-consuming. Then, both sides submit their arguments to the appeals court in written briefs. If there is a hearing, it will be a brief oral argument where your attorney will appear to make a legal argument to the court.

Facing criminal charges? Tenure being threatened? Unsure of how you should handle a Title IX matter? The Law Office of Ruth O'Meara-Costello can help.
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