Academic Misconduct: Bribery

Students are under vast amounts of pressure these days, and after working hard to get to college, there is a lot at risk to their future if they're accused of any type of academic misconduct. If a student has been accused of bribery, it's important to know that it can be a very serious offense with consequences that reverberate out beyond the one instance. It's critical that you contact an attorney-advisor, experienced with academic misconduct cases, to assist you or your loved one.

What Is Bribery?

Bribery occurs in an academic setting when someone offers or accepts money or goods in order to receive an academic leg up. Specifically, this could possibly mean two types of behaviors. First, bribing someone for an academic advantage could look like a student offering a professor something in exchange for a passing grade. The student might offer money, services, or goods. Accepting the bribe would take place if the professor agreed to it. Additionally, just the suggestion of a bribe could be considered a bribe. The reverse of this could also be true: a professor makes an offer to a student of a passing grade in exchange for money, services, or goods. Bribery is a very subjective matter, and so it's critical that you're cautious about what you say to academic staff. If they misunderstand something, it might be taken to indicate bribery, even if that was not your intention.

What might bribery look like in actual practice? It might look like a parent paying an online company to take classes for their student and then demanding a discount when the grade wasn't satisfactory. Karen Littlefair, of California, pled guilty after hiring a company to take four of her son's online classes through Georgetown University. According to ABCNews, the case also included “former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, who is accused of taking $2.7 million in bribes to designate at least 12 applicants as recruited athletes even if they didn't play tennis.”

As with many examples of academic misconduct, the actual scenarios in which students find themselves accused can vary greatly. As long as the applicable college or university's definition of Bribery is met, a school can pursue disciplinary action against a student.

How Can You Protect Yourself If You've Been Accused Of Bribery?

If you've been accused of bribery, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. Bribery can be a serious charge at your school, depending on your college or university's code of conduct. Here five of the simplest to keep in mind if you have been accused of bribery.

  1. Document Everything
    Keep track of everything that is potentially relevant to your case. Gather any evidence that's linked to the allegation: papers, emails, any communication with your professor. Make sure to highlight any sections of the Code of Conduct that seem relevant when you review it in the next step. An attorney-advisor will be able to recommend whether the information will strengthen your case or weaken your case.
  2. Review your school's code of conduct or student handbook
    Each university or college has its own code of conduct that will determine the due process for your case. The code of conduct may focus on cheating and plagiarism, and you might need to look closely to find out the parameters of a bribery offense. You'll find information there as well regarding potential consequences and the specific timelines for cases. Some schools have varying procedures for first offenses versus repeat offenders.
  3. Do not respond to anything without first speaking with an attorney-advisor
    You should research attorney-advisors who could potentially assist you and reach out to them before you respond to any allegations from your university or college. If you wait too long before you connect with one, your case could suffer. It's critical to find an experienced academic misconduct attorney-advisor who has helped students in your situation in the past. They'll be able to recommend the best steps beyond this introductory list.
  4. Stay Calm
    It's easy to be concerned with a charge such as bribery. Your academic career could be at stake, and so it makes sense that you'd be worried. However, it's important that you stay calm and don't panic. Don't admit anything to anyone. Don't try to explain yourself to anyone. Remember to breathe. Find a way to hit the pause button on your concerns, whether it's taking up an extra activity such as running or something more meditative like journaling.
  5. Don't discuss the matter with anyone
    Don't talk about the case with any of your peers, professors, or even your best friend. It's best not to talk about your case with anyone at the school. Make sure not to post about it on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. Stay off social media.

What Are Potential Consequences?

Each university or school will have its own potential consequences when it comes to bribery, which is why it's essential to read through your school's specific code of conduct. Depending on the severity (or repetition) of the offense, the committee might agree on a range of consequences. You could be suspended for a specific length of time, or you could be expelled. The length of suspension could negatively impact your financial aid, depending on whether that changes your eligibility as a student.

How Can An Attorney-Advisor Assist You?

An experienced attorney-advisor will be able to ensure that you take the best possible steps to protect yourself and your academic career. Although your school might imply that you don't need a lawyer to help you fight the academic misconduct charge of bribery, that is not true. The process is not a court of law; however, an experienced academic misconduct attorney-advisor can ensure that you're able to best defend yourself. They will understand how to approach the evidence to support your defense and how to present your case persuasively at your school's hearing persuasively. Many universities and colleges will not allow an attorney-advisor to speak at your hearing, but sometimes the school will permit them to be present. Additionally, if an appeal is necessary, an attorney-advisor can help you navigate the appeal process so you can acquire the best possible outcome.

The Best Academic Misconduct Attorney-Advisor

If you or a loved one has been accused of bribery at a college or university, it's important that you speak with an experienced attorney-advisor. They will have the expertise and understanding to help students obtain the best possible outcomes. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped families and students for many years and understands the severity of academic misconduct charges, not only in the short-term, but also when it comes to future consequences. With so much at stake, if you have questions about a bribery allegation, call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.

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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