Academic Misconduct at Pasco-Hernando State College

No one said college was going to be easy. You've got to learn how to live with another person; how to make rational decisions about when to study and when to party; how to separate your whites from your colors. And—oh yeah—there's that calculus final to worry about. As hard as college is, though, a charge of academic misconduct can make it infinitely harder.

You may not think about cheating and plagiarism as serious offenses, but you can be sure your school does. Violations of the honor code can garner serious penalties, including course failure, probation, suspension, and even expulsion.

What do you do if you've been accused? First, you find out everything you can about how your college handles such accusations. What are the rules? What kinds of punishments can you face for breaking them? How do you go about defending yourself? Then, you find someone to help you fight the charges, an attorney-advisor with expertise in university policies and experience helping students protect their rights. You can successfully defend yourself from academic misconduct allegations, but you're going to need a professional at your side to do it.

Defining Academic Misconduct

First things first: what is academic misconduct anyway? Academic misconduct refers to academic violations—any activity that might tend to give you an unfair advantage in completing your coursework. Every school has a policy forbidding academic misconduct, though, of course, each one maintains its own particular set of rules.

What are the rules at Pasco-Hernando State College? They're actually pretty simple. The school's Academic Dishonesty Policy lists just two categories of misconduct: cheating and plagiarism.


PHSC provides this definition for “cheating”:

the giving or taking of information or material with the purpose of wrongfully aiding oneself or another person in academic work that is to be considered in determining a grade

That's a mouthful. What does it mean in plain English? Basically, if you:

  1. Use some resource other than your own brain to complete your work, AND you
  2. Don't have permission to use that resource

You're guilty of cheating.

  • Using your book during a closed book exam? Cheating
  • Texting a friend to get answers during an exam? Cheating.
  • Hiding exam answers on the inside brim of your baseball cap? Also cheating.
  • Having your roommate take the exam for you? You guessed it: Cheating.


Plagiarism means trying to pass another person's work or ideas off as your own without giving them due credit.

Obviously, buying your freshman comp term paper from an online paper mill will get you into hot water. It turns out, though, that dropping a single sentence from your textbook into a paper, without quotation marks and a proper citation, can also get you into trouble.

In addition, you should know that plagiarism doesn't just apply to text. You can be accused of plagiarizing video, art, or even computer code. In fact, some professors will charge you with plagiarism if you grab an image online and cut and paste it into your PowerPoint presentation.

Defending Yourself From Charges

What happens if you do wind up accused of breaking a rule?

Pasco-Hernando State College is somewhat unique in how it handles allegations of academic misconduct. As at most schools, instructors have the primary responsibility for identifying policy violations. However, they don't actually respond to those violations directly. Instead, academic misconduct is treated as another form of general misconduct in the Student Handbook and dealt with through administrative channels the same as any other conduct violation, like drug possession or assault.

The disciplinary process begins when someone—most often your instructor—reports you for misconduct. That report goes to the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, who takes one of the following actions:

  • They dismiss the complaint for lack of evidence
  • They forward the matter to a Disciplinary Committee

The Disciplinary Committee holds a formal hearing:

  • You are entitled to notification of the hearing
  • You are entitled to an advisor, who may be an attorney. However, during the proceedings, this advisor may only observe.
  • You have the right to present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf
  • The school's case is handled by the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Enrollment

Ultimately, the Disciplinary Committee decides not only whether or not you are responsible for a violation but also what your sanction should be. Sanctions can include:

  • Verbal or written warning
  • Makeup assignment or assignment re-submission
  • Educational assignment on the nature of academic integrity
  • Lowered grade on the assignment in question, up to a zero
  • Lowered grade in the class, up to an F
  • Academic probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Finally, you may appeal the Disciplinary Committee's findings to the Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment but only in the case of procedural error or the discovery of new and relevant information.

Joseph D. Lento, Student Conduct Attorney-Advisor

Academic integrity allegations can have long-term consequences for both your academic and professional careers, even if you aren't facing expulsion. If it should be noted in your academic record, a warning about misconduct can interfere with scholarships, keep you from getting into graduate school, and even interfere with job applications.

Your school takes academic misconduct seriously. You should too.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, fully-licensed defense attorney. He's devoted his career to helping student clients get the justice they deserve. Joseph D. Lento knows how your school operates. He's familiar with your school's judicial procedures and experienced in dealing with faculty and administrators. Joseph D. Lento has represented literally hundreds of students just like you, defending them from all kinds of accusations, from simple cheating on a test to complicated plagiarism schemes. If you're a student looking to take on your school, you need the best possible representation you can find. You need Joseph D. Lento.

If you've been accused of any type of academic misconduct, contact Joseph D. Lento today to find out what he can do for you. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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