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Accused of Cheating? Top Three Tips from an Education Law Attorney

Plagiarism, academic dishonesty, falsification of work. Whatever your school calls it is not important. You’ve been accused of cheating. This is one of the most serious accusations that can be made against a student. In many cases, a school can expel a student if the school determines that the student cheated. It can also have long-lasting consequences. Some jobs, including some government jobs, specifically ask if you’ve even been found to have engaged in any type of academic dishonesty. Law students applying to their state bars may also find this question on the bar application. So what do you do. First, I do believe it is important to hire an education law attorney to assist you. The stakes are just too high not to have professional help. In addition, here are three tips:

1. Think Before You Speak and Write

When a student is accused of cheating many times the first step is a teacher or professor approaching the student and either directly or indirectly accuses the student of academic dishonesty. Time and time again I see two main problematic things that students do. I see students whose first reaction is to get defensive, nasty, and highly confrontational. They many times will send a scathing email to the professor, and make threats. Yes, it happens. This is probably the worst thing you could do. Before you write something and hit “send,” ask yourself one question: How will this look to other people who read this? If the answer is, it won’t make me look good, then don’t send it. Be respectful, remain calm, set forth your position, and see what happens. The other thing I see is students who don’t think about what they are about to say and blurt out things that may not put them in the best light. For instance, saying, “well yes, I was talking to Jane during the test, but I swear it wasn’t about the answers.” Think before you speak.

2. Read Your Handbook

All schools have a handbook that lays out all of the school’s rules, requirements and policies. This also has a section which deals with procedures when student’s are accused of wrongdoing, including academic dishonesty. Read it. Have a copy of the relevant section with you when called before any faculty or administrator. Many times they don’t know, or don’t care, what those policies say. The result is that the student gets shortchanged. If you are to have a certain amount of notice, the ability to look at the evidence against you, or the ability to call witnesses, it’s all laid out in the handbook’s procedures. If the school doesn’t follow it, then they have a problem.

3. The School is Not Your Friend

We have this image of schools, especially colleges and universities. They are there to nurture students, to bring out the best and prepare them for life. If you take nothing else away from this know that they are not your friends. They are a business. Do not let a professor, a dean, or an administrator fool you. I have seen over and over again where they will say to a student, “just admit what you did, and it will all be OK.” The student admits, sometimes, for no reason at all, and the next thing that happens is the school is moving to dismiss them. That statement that you wrote and signed, admitting to all that stuff, well it will be the centerpiece of their case against you.


As I said earlier, being accused of any type of academic dishonesty is probably one of the most serious things that can happen to a student. At least pick up the phone and consult with an education attorney, it may make all the difference. I offer consultations and advise students all over the country facing cheating accusations. Give me a call, I would be happy to speak with you. 

Click here to read about our college student defense practice area which includes cheating and plagiarism.

You can also read my blog post about plagiarism here and what to do if a professor accuses you of cheating or plagiarism here.

Richard Asselta is an award-winning education law attorney who offers student defense services to students throughout the United States. Contact The  Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your education and future. (855) 338-5299

Click here to read what client's are saying about Richard Asselta on Avvo, a lawyer review website.

Categories: Blog, Education Law

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