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Accused of cheating or plagiarism at an online school? Defense tips from a lawyer for students.

On Behalf of | May 29, 2018

Online schools like the University of Phoenix, Capella University, Walden University, and Southern New Hampshire University are becoming increasingly popular. The ability to get a degree from home allows the flexibility to do courses on your own time. However, accusations of cheating and plagiarism are increasing among online students. What can happen if you are accused of an academic integrity violation like cheating or plagiarism at an online school? Read on for tips from an attorney for online students.

What is considered an academic integrity violation?

Schools have different categories of academic integrity violations. The most common types include:


Online schools may utilize test taking lock-down browsers to ensure students do not navigate the internet while taking a test. Students may also be trusted not use notes or other resources while taking the test. Using notes while taking a test could be considered unauthorized assistance, using a cell phone to look up test questions, using a friend’s old course materials, or having a friend who took the test tell you what was on it could be considered cheating.


Most online universities use plagiarism databases like Turnitin to check for originality of a student’s written submission. A student can be accused of plagiarism if they forget to cite sources, submits an assignment written by someone else, uses an old paper written for another class, or turns in an old assignment of another student. High similarity reports from plagiarism checkers will also cause a student to be flagged, even if they did cite their sources.

What is the academic integrity process for an online course?

The process a student will face when accused of a cheating or plagiarism at school is different for each university. The process should be in the student’s handbook or easily found on the universities website.

What can an attorney for online students do to help in the academic integrity process?

The academic integrity process can be confusing for students. There are typically several steps and associated deadlines that students must meet. I strongly recommend involving a lawyer for online students early in the process. My strategy for supporting students includes ghost write emails between the student and school, discussing evidence and fighting with the school to include or exclude evidence. A well written opening and closing statement along with the arguments for the students to use at an academic hearing is also an important supporting piece to the service I provide.

Do I need a lawyer for online college students to help in the academic integrity process?

I have seen online schools charge students with academic integrity violations with little to no evidence. Schools have built cases against students on assumptions and not much more. I have seen schools move forward with charges and find students guilty with nearly no proof they did anything wrong. A lawyer for students can build a defense for innocent students and help minimize the impact of charges and push for a lower punishment for students caught red-handed.

Can you help all online college students?

Yes. I advise students all over the United States facing academic integrity violations at online universities.

Defend your educational integrity and protect your academic future.

Richard Asselta is an experienced attorney for online students. He works with students all over the country to defend accusations of cheating and plagiarism. Call today for a free consultation. 855-338-5299 Click here to read what clients are saying about Richard on AVVO, an attorney review website.