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How can I prove I didn’t cheat on an online test?

By July 5, 2021September 25th, 2023No Comments

As a student, the last thing you want to hear is that a professor is accusing you of cheating on an online test or assignment. False accusations of academic dishonesty can have consequences that follow you for the rest of your academic career.

Luckily, all hope is not lost. With the advice of an experienced student defense attorney, you can provide evidence to show that you didn’t do what you’re accused of doing.

The disciplinary process is different at every university, and it’s usually a complicated process. But at DC Student Defense, we’ve helped hundreds of students get through these accusations and come out the other side with their academic future protected.

Here’s our breakdown of what to do if you’re falsely accused of online cheating, and how you can prove your innocence.

What to do first

The most important first step is to take a deep breath and try to stay calm.

Your first instinct may be to reply to your professor with an indignant email, or to go on social media to tell everyone what is happening. But in the end, those actions will hurt your case when it comes to your disciplinary charges with the university.

You do not want to rush into this process or create any damage that can’t be undone.

Instead, follow these three steps to prepare your defense:

  • Read through your official accusation carefully to make sure you understand everything that you are being accused of. Then take another look at your school’s Code of Conduct and their rules about academic integrity. Make sure that you’re familiar with your school’s guidelines for how they respond to cheating accusations.
  • Don’t talk to anyone at your school about the accusations without consulting an attorney first. We’ve already talked about the dangers of immediately responding to your professor, but this also applies to your friends, roommates, classmates, and advisors.
  • Contact a student defense attorney who has experience defending students against accusations of cheating. These attorneys will probably be familiar with the disciplinary process at your university, and they’ll know how to defend your rights from being violated by your university.

Once you’ve consulted with an attorney, you can begin gathering evidence to support your case.

What to document

If you’re being charged with formal disciplinary charges, your university will probably ask for a written statement as well as any evidence supporting those statements from both you and the professor who’s accusing you of cheating. Then, there will likely be a hearing in which you both present your cases, and finally the disciplinary board will come to a decision. 

Depending on the specifics of your case and the way that your school responds to cheating accusations, you and your attorney may craft a specific plan for how to prepare your defense.

In general, here are some of the documents you’ll want to gather in preparation for your hearing:

  • The assignment or test responses in question, if you have access to them
  • Any other relevant work you’ve done in this class
  • Your professor’s accusation — an email, an official correspondence from the school, etc.
  • Any relevant correspondences with other students or professors
  • The Zoom recording of the exam, if the exam was proctored & recorded online
  • Your school’s Code of Conduct
  • Your school’s rules about academic integrity
  • Your professor’s syllabus
  • Your professor’s guidelines for academic integrity

Even if it’s not possible to prove conclusively whether you did or didn’t cheat, coming in with a well-prepared defense demonstrating your commitment to academic honesty will help you reduce the risk of serious, long-lasting consequences.

Hire a student defense attorney in DC

However you decide to approach responding to your accusations, it’s important to have a team to help you. Our attorneys at DC Student Defense have helped countless college students in this situation protect their rights and preserve their academic futures.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and talk about your situation.

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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