Academic Misconduct – Dishonesty

Among the more complex cases within the academic misconduct framework are those that involve dishonesty. Dishonesty includes multiple actions that violate codes of conduct and go against the principles of academic integrity.

Despite the new challenges that college administrations face due to distance learning, disciplinary processes remain intact, and new ones are appearing. However, the increasing paranoia about opportunities for cheating is causing some panels to err on the side of caution. As a result, some students receive unfair treatment or even punishment for actions that they did not commit.

While not all investigations lead to a guilty verdict or a finding of responsibility, if a resolution is not favorable, accused students can lose credits, student housing, or even their placement due to a dishonesty charge.   This would be on top of whatever disciplinary sanctions that may be imposed, be it probation, suspension, or even expulsion in more severe cases or cases where an accused student has had prior disciplinary issues. 

If you or a loved one face accusations of academic dishonesty, you have the right to defend yourself, and you must do so and otherwise work towards a favorable resolution because the consequences of an academic dishonesty finding can have serious short and long-term consequences which can affect a student's academic and professional goals. 

Types of Academic Dishonesty

Since dishonesty is a vague term, you need a more concrete understanding of the accusations to fight them effectively. Academic dishonesty is any action or behavior that goes against educational integrity principles and ethical standards.

Cheating, plagiarism, deception, falsifying documents, and sabotage for illicit academic advantage all fall within the scope of this charge. Even if you are an accomplice to a dishonesty charge, you may still be liable for penalties.


Cheating exists in many forms and isn't just about copying answers. Other forms of cheating include plagiarism, which is passing off another's work as your own. Colleges have strict guidelines about this conduct, and penalties vary for the charge depending on the extent of cheating or plagiarism. Multiple offenders are more susceptible to harsh penalties, such as probation or losing class credits.


Deception is a vague term to describe providing false information to instructors or administrators. Not all deceptive practices lead to an investigation by the panel. Still, some cases are extreme and necessitate a board's involvement to determine what course of action to take against the student. Examples of deceptive practices include fabricating excuses to avoid submitting assignments or tests.

Falsification of Documents

Document falsification is one of the more challenging academic dishonesty charges that students face. Colleges have stringent requirements to filter the best applicants for their programs. The provision of authentic documents is necessary to facilitate the selection process and highlight an application. In some cases, students provide false documents by digitally editing them or purchase a bogus certification that doesn't exist.

Misuse / Sabotage

To avoid a deadline, some students may intentionally sabotage a college's system to take advantage of extra time. In other instances, a student may manipulate their school portal to change test scores or modifying their attendance rate. These actions take time from professors and classmates and involve using administrative and financial resources to restore the damage.

Miscellaneous Dishonesty Charges

A student can receive a dishonesty charge by their college administrations for other actions that constitute a failure to uphold academic integrity. If the activities involve multiple forms of dishonesty, disciplinary panels respond with expulsion and, in some cases, revoking the student's diploma.

The best way to fight charges and build a successful defense strategy is to work with a legal advisor. Having an experienced advisor by your side decreases the likelihood of facing disproportionate penalties. With Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento's legal and negotiation expertise, you won't have to suffer the consequences of false or erroneous charges.

How Colleges Tackle Academic Misconduct

Although it will depend on the specific policies of the college or university involved, when a professor, teaching assistant, administrator, etc., suspects that a student is committing academic dishonesty, they often refer the matter to the school's conduct office who may in turn refer the case to a disciplinary panel for adjudication. Even if the action does not occur on-campus, such as a case involving online cheating, panels can still charge students and enforce penalties, as long as the accused student's alleged conduct may be in violation of school policies.  

Students facing an accusation often meet the panel and defend themselves against the allegations. The meeting is either a formal or informal assembly, depending on the charge and the school involved. Usually, the faculty member accusing the student is also at the hearing.

Although the meeting is not a legal process, it is critical to have an experienced attorney-advisor help defend against allegations of academic dishonesty. Attorneys experienced in such matters will have a strong background in investigating matters; gathering, obtaining, and prioritizing evidence; and preparing an accused student or respondent in all capacities for the path to come.

Why You Need Legal Advice

Any finding of academic dishonesty will be damaging and will have lasting implications on a student's future. Even if you are not guilty of the charges against you, assuming that the panel will come to this conclusion is not in your best interests. You must be ready to present evidence that contradicts the false statements against you. If there is no proof of your claims, there is no guarantee you will receive a fair hearing.

Hiring an attorney prevents disciplinary boards from taking your case lightly. With a representative in your corner that can potentially escalate the issue to court if the school violates an accused student's rights and interests, you send a message that you will not hesitate to fight for your rights.

Some students and families speak to an advisor only after a case concludes with a guilty verdict or a finding of responsibility.  When that happens, it may be difficult to change the decision—having a legal ally with you from the start of the case factors in the panel's decision, leading to a better case outcome.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor For a Dishonesty Charge

If you receive a notice of academic misconduct by your college administration, don't wait until the case is no longer in your control. You have the right to defend yourself regardless of the allegations against you and the nature of the actions. Although the panels are intimidating and aggressive in their questioning, your educational future depends on their findings.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents students who need a knowledgeable negotiation expert by their side when their reputation is on the line. With years of experience defending students across the United States, Joseph D. Lento prevents panels from not giving you the rights you deserve.

Attorney-advisor Lento builds your case meticulously, examining the evidence against you, and gathering critical information for your hearing. Using his legal expertise and straightforward approach, Joseph D.  Lento is an ally who helps you get the best possible outcome for your case.

Don't let a dishonesty allegation ruin your chances of graduating or achieving your academic and professional goals. Call Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for the help you need.

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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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