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Academic Honor CodeCheating

Can A University Charge You With An Honor Code Violation After Graduating?

By August 12, 2020November 7th, 2022No Comments

Getting charged with an honor code violation is any student’s nightmare. But once you’ve graduated, any fear of an honor code violation accusation should be well laid to rest, right? 

Not quite.

You can still be charged with an honor code violation by your alma mater. That being the case, have you thought of what the consequences might be? Let’s take a quick look at them.

What Are The Consequences Of An Honor Code Violation?

Most universities have honor codes. These honor codes usually require students not to cheat on examinations, tests, papers, or assignments. They may also contain other requirements relating to student behavior or conduct.

Usually, when you join a university, the honor code is explained to you. In fact, most times, you will have to sign a pledge that you have read and understood the honor code. The consequences of an honor code violation can be both short term and long term. They may include any of the following:

  • Reprimand
  • Suspension
  • Probation
  • Outright dismissal or expulsion

If the university finds you responsible for breaking an honor code in relation to a course, you may have to:

  • Repeat the course
  • Get a failing grade in the course, or
  • Take an ethics course

The university may also revoke certain of your school privileges like:

  • Denying you access to particular school buildings,
  • Disallowing you from attending certain university functions
  • Removing your capacity to serve in a leadership position
  • Not granting you permission to participate in certain college activities

The consequences of honor code violations are, however, not limited to when you’re still a student. The university can still charge you for honor code violations long after you’ve graduated. Once they are notified that you may have violated the honor code, you can still undergo the academic integrity process.

If the outcome turns out to be against your favor, the university may rescind your degree — even if you already have a job in your degree field. In fact, you may lose your position as a result of the degree rescinding. 

What Is The Procedure For Prosecuting Honor Code Violations After Graduating?

Different universities have different ways of dealing with honor code violations. Despite this, the process is typically initiated when a student or faculty member reports a person for violating an honor code to the school officials. The university then brings the allegations before an honor council. The council is generally made up of students, professors, and a non-voting faculty adviser.

In practice, if you’re charged with an honor code violation, you may not be given immediate access to the written charges leveled against you. Neither will the authorities give you the documents backing up the allegations. This can hinder you from adequately preparing a defense. 

If that happens, you should nonetheless read the school’s policies and gather witnesses and documents for your defense. You can also choose to hire a lawyer to defend you, although not all universities allow lawyers in the disciplinary proceedings. In such situations, the lawyer can act in an advisory capacity.

How To Prepare A Defense Against Honor Code Violation Charges

When preparing a defense against an honor code violation charge, here’s a list of things you need to do at the very least:

  • Read the written policies regulating the university’s honor code and honor council
  • Get a copy of all the information the university is basing the violation charge on
  • Note possible witnesses
  • Examine every possible justification for the alleged violation
  • Hire an experienced student defense attorney to help you understand the likely questions the honor council may ask, and prepare how best to answer them
  • Research how the honor council works in practice and not just in theory
  • Request for the exact procedures that comply with due process

Contact DC Student Defense Today

Being accused of an honor code violation can have a significantly negative and long-lasting effect on a student. It’s even worse if you are recalled by your university after graduating to face an honor code violation charge. It could end in you losing not just your degree but your job as well. Avoid these problems by contacting DC Student Defense today to help you with your case if you’ve been accused of an honor code violation.

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

Shan Wu

Author Shan 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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