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What to do if you are accused of cheating on your exam

By March 16, 2020May 7th, 2020No Comments

Cheating on college campuses is a widespread practice, and believe it or not, the majority of students think cheating is OK — until they get caught. But if you’re caught and found responsible  of cheating on a college campus, the consequences can be far-reaching. 

In our technology-driven world, colleges that accuse students of cheating on exams or other relevant tasks may claim that you used an electronic source you shouldn’t have when completing your test or other assignment.  

The most common forms of college cheating are plagiarizing work from another source via the internet and using information from a smartphone to cheat during class. 

This means that any college or university accusing a student of cheating — whether it’s using Wikipedia, a teacher’s notes stored online or other prohibited sites — should have the IT proof to back it up. 

Students accused of cheating on college campuses should hire a student defense attorney – in particular, one who understands that a cheating case will look more like a computer crimes defense than a college code of conduct infraction. 

But before you hire an attorney, be sure to follow these steps to set yourself up for success: 

  • Read the accusations against you carefully — more than once — and talk to your parents or other guardians in your life who can give you good advice and possibly help you pay for an attorney. 
  • Do not speak about the accusations against you to any other students on campus, even if they are your friends. 
  • Do not try to defend yourself to the professor who’s accusing you — or anyone else on campus — before you’ve spoken to your attorney. 

What are the consequences for cheating in college? 

Punishment for cheating on college campuses will vary: it all depends on your university’s code of conduct. Your punishment could include one or all of the following, if you’re found guilty: 

  • Verbal reprimand
  • Written reprimand
  • Failing grade for the class or assignment in which you were caught cheating
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion 

What attorneys look for in college cheating cases

An experienced college defense attorney will be looking for the following in an effort to disprove the college’s accusations: 

  • Internet records from the school showing when you were and were not logged on to the internet, as well as internet search records showing what you were viewing while logged on. 
  • Internet records from the student showing when you accessed the internet off campus and what you were searching for when you did. 
  • Records from college-run student resource sites, like Blackboard.

As you can see, cheating on college campuses is a serious allegation. Shanlon Wu is an experienced defense attorney who specializes in advocating for college students. If you’ve been accused of cheating on campus, contact DC Student Defense today. 

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shanlon Wu

Author Shanlon Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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