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Caught Cheating in College - Advice from an Education Lawyer

College is stressful. How can you manage all your responsibilities and still get good grades? This intense pressure can cause students to make poor choices – one of them could be to cheat.

What can you do if caught cheating in college?

There are two options and they depend on the evidence that you are faced with:

  1. If there is undeniable proof that you cheated, you may consider owning up to the accusation and then try to minimize the disciplinary sanctions.
  2. If there is no hard evidence that you cheated, you may want to take your chances with an academic integrity hearing. The hearing is an option offered by colleges to allow the student to defend themselves against an allegation like cheating or plagiarism. There is a panel of students and staff that determine innocence or guilt, and in the latter, hand down a discipline sanction.

What type of evidence could the school have that I cheated?

I have seen schools use several types of evidence to attempt to prove cheating, these are just a few:

  • Witness testimony from classmates
  • IP Access to the school Wi-Fi correlated with exam times
  • Exam right/wrong answers correlated to other students
  • Access to web classroom resources/ log on to school note sites
  • Turnitin submission history
  • Similarity in formula use or problem-solving techniques

The evidence I have seen used against students is dependent on the type of program they are in. For example, a computer engineering school may reference code similarities while a law school may make an issue out of similarities in argument formulation.

How serious is being caught cheating?

An allegation of cheating is one of the most serious charges a college can bring against a student. A student record of cheating may have to be disclosed on every school application you fill out and possibly, need to be disclosed on professional license applications or state or federal job applications. Colleges view cheating as a very serious charge that could lead to suspension or expulsion.

Tips from an education lawyer for students caught cheating

  1. Just because you were “caught” doesn’t mean you did it.Great students with impeccable records can be falsely accused of cheating. You have the right to defend your record against these allegations.
  2. Be wary of taking a “deal” from the professor.Students are sometimes offered a deal in exchange for a confession. I have seen these confessions then turned against the student and used in formal disciplinary hearings. Before accepting such a “deal” find out from the professor if he or she is the final decision-maker on the issue.

3.Know your school’s policy and your rights if you are accused. Think about your options and take your time in your defense. Hire an experienced education lawyer to craft your defense.

You typically get only one chance at success. Make it the best you can.

Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey and offers student defense services to students throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of student disciplinary issues including plagiarism. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your educational future. (855) 338-5299

Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.

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