Step One: Identify who is making the allegation. Usually the accuser will be a professor, fellow student, or administrator. Accusations of plagiarism by professors must be handled in a different manner than those brought forth by other students or school administrators. Depending on whether a formal charge has been brought against the student, contact with the professor who made the accusation is prohibited and any contact could result in an additional violation of the university’s code of conduct.
Step Two: Find out if a formal charge has been initiated. Your child will be notified by a university administrator if a formal charge has been initiated. If no such notice has been given then there may be a short window of time to resolve the matter directly and informally with the accusing professor. An informal resolution will prevent the formal disciplinary process from being triggered which can be incredibly stressful for your child and may result in a permanent notation reflecting academic dishonesty on your child’s transcript.
Step Three: Contact an experienced student defense attorney. Plagiarism is considered a severe honor code violation, which usually gives rise to a university disciplinary proceeding. Like most conduct code violations, plagiarism charges against your child can lead to loss of housing or scholarship, suspension, or expulsion, as well as affecting your child’s performance in that particular class. If you believe your child’s academic record or student rights are in jeopardy due to pending plagiarism charges, it is important to contact a student defense attorney to help your child navigate their university disciplinary hearings or negotiate an informal resolution when possible and appropriate.
An experienced student defense attorney understands that each case is unique and will require a tailored approach. For example, universities often define plagiarism differently. Some universities define the act of plagiarism as an “intentional” act while others do not. As a result carelessness and honest mistakes could potentially result in very serious sanctions. Additionally, an experienced student defense attorney knows how to properly interpret the evidence relied upon by the university. For example, professors often misinterpret data percentages produced by plagiarism software checker programs like Turnitin.com and incorrectly conclude instances of plagiarism. An experienced student defense attorney will be able to review all the evidence against your child and form a strong defense.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.