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Caught cheating in school? Should you accept the punishment or face an academic hearing?

You made the bad decision to cheat in school. Maybe you had your phone during an exam or looked at another student’s paper. The professor or TA caught you and now you are facing academic integrity sanctions. Should you accept the sanction or fight for a lesser punishment? Read on for then answer from a lawyer for college students.

What happens if I get caught cheating?

It depends on your university. Your student handbook should have a section that covers academic integrity or honor code violations. This section will give a student a step-by-step outline on how academic violations are handled.

Typically, I see the following steps when a student is caught cheating:

  1. Meeting with the professor – The student will meet with the professor and talk about what they think happened.
  2. Academic integrity violation charges are filed – The professor will send the cheating allegation to the academic integrity office.

What does the academic integrity office do?

The role of the academic integrity office is to investigate the allegation. They will contact you for your side of the story and figure out if you should face an academic committee hearing. You may be given an offer to accept a sanction instead of going to a committee hearing. However, some violations are automatically sent to the honor code committee.

Should I accept the punishment for cheating?

I wish there was a standard answer for this question. Unfortunately, it depends. The sanction could be as minor as a letter of warning or as serious as suspension or expulsion from school. If you are offered a suspension or expulsion from school, fighting to mitigate the sanction down may be best.

What happens if I decide to fight the sanction?

You will have to defend yourself in front of a panel of people who will decide your punishment. This may sound intimidating, but I believe that in many situations, it is the student’s best option, especially if they are facing a suspension or expulsion from school. 

Why should I go before an academic integrity hearing panel?

Having the chance to fight the academic cheating charge can be successful for the student. While the process can be stressful, several things that help the student may be uncovered in this process. I have seen schools fail to follow their own policies, fail to retain evidence against the student, not have enough evidence to hold the student accountable for the charge, and so on.

Does a student have to go before an academic integrity panel by themselves?

No. Depending on the university, they allow advisers to be present during the hearings. This adviser may not be able to speak in the hearing, but they can pass notes to the student. Having an experienced college student discipline adviser is a huge benefit to students going through this process.

As a student discipline adviser, I prepare statements, questions, evidence and more to aid the student in presenting the best possible defense. My specialized knowledge of what the academic integrity committees considers, along with the rules the school must follow, gives students the best chance of success.

Can you help me defend an academic integrity violation?

Yes. I help students all over the country defend against accusations of an honor code violation. Using nearly two decades of legal experience combined with a specialized knowledge of the student disciplinary process, I help students gain successful outcomes.

I also attend hearings as an adviser to support students during the academic integrity board hearing process. This can be a stressful event for students accused of an academic violation. The presence of an adviser with my background supports the students to make the best possible presentation and keeps the academic panel hearing fair.

Call today for help defending your academic integrity charge. (855) 338-5299

Richard Asselta is an award-winning student defense lawyer who offers college student defense advising services throughout the United States. He is experienced in defending all types of college disciplinary issues, including cheating by collaboration.

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

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