Don’t Speak to Academic Misconduct Officials Without an Attorney-Advisor

It's All About the Timing. Cheating, plagiarism, and other academic misconduct charges often seem to the accused student like all that school officials need to dismiss the charge is the accused student's explanation. Many academic misconduct matters indeed involve straightforward questions of who did what when, with what information, authorization, permission, collaboration, or instructions. Accused students tend to feel that as soon as they explain the situation, the academic misconduct charges will disappear. Professors and administrators do make mistakes in suspecting student academic misconduct. They sometimes misidentify students, student work, student instructions, and student actions and intentions. Explanations can help resolve academic misconduct charges. But it's all about the timing. Consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney first can ensure the right timing.

Only One Good Chance. The problem that accused students face when rushing in to speak with professors, misconduct administrators, or other school officials before the student consults an academic misconduct defense attorney is that the accused student generally gets only one good chance to explain the circumstances–the first chance that the student speaks about the matter. Once the student speaks with school officials in answer and explanation of the academic misconduct charges, the die is cast. The school misconduct officials will use the accused student's first information to further investigate and evaluate the charges about which they likely already have abundant other information. It's very hard for an accused student to go back a second, third, or subsequent time to supplement, revise, or correct the accused student's first account. The accused student often gets only one good chance at an explanation. Consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney first can ensure that it's the one best explanation.

Early Is Too Early. Another problem that accused students face when they rush in to try to explain away academic misconduct charges before consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney is that the accused student is unprepared to give a complete, accurate, and exonerating account of what happened. Students receiving notice and charges of academic misconduct typically have only a fraction of the available information and evidence. In contrast, school misconduct officials may, with the investigation already nearly complete, have ninety percent of the information and evidence, lacking only the accused student's statement. That imbalance of information puts the school misconduct officials in charge and the accused student at a gross disadvantage. It also means that the student will be speaking while factually uninformed, out of hand, perhaps guessing at circumstances, assuming facts, or conjecturing about what happened when school officials already know it. Consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney first can ensure that the accused student gets all of the school's information and evidence before the student gives a statement guessing at what happened.

Early, Often, and Late Is Too Often. Another problem with an accused student speaking to school academic misconduct officials first, before consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney to get and review all of the school's information and evidence, is that the student will likely need to speak again and again. As the accused student learns more about what the school knows about the circumstances of the alleged academic misconduct, the student naturally will have further explanations. Indeed, the student may want and need to give statement after statement after statement throughout the course of the investigation, disclosure of investigation report, settlement conferences, prehearing conferences, and hearing. But with each successive statement, the accused student's account will likely change in at least small ways, innocently but noticeably to school misconduct officials. Each change in the accused student's account leaves an inference of poor recollection, sloppy reporting, or rank fabrication and dishonesty. Consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney first would help the student give one and only one statement at the right time and with the right information, avoiding credibility problems.

Wrong Audiences. Another problem with an accused student speaking to school academic misconduct officials before consulting an academic misconduct defense attorney is that the student will likely speak at times to the wrong officials. Colleges and universities can involve multiple employees and administrators in academic misconduct disputes, filling different roles. Professors often have frontline authority not only to report academic misconduct, investigate it, and act as a witness to it but also to resolve certain forms of misconduct. Professors, in other words, wear multiple hats, all benefiting the school. Those roles give professors conflicts of interest in advising accused students about academic misconduct allegations. Similarly, academic advisors, support staff, academic deans, student deans, registrars, and other school officials sometimes involved in academic misconduct proceedings each have their own roles, responsibilities, interests, biases, prejudices, and perspectives. When a student accused of academic misconduct consults an academic misconduct defense attorney first, the student learns with which school officials to speak to ensure unbiased recording, reporting, use, and other treatment of the student's information and evidence.

An Academic Misconduct Defense Attorney's Role. You can see from the above discussion that an academic misconduct defense attorney plays a critical role. An attorney advisor ensures that the student accused of academic misconduct speaks only when well informed, only to the right misconduct officials, only once at the most opportune and influential time, and only when the officials will accurately record and report, and responsibly use and not abuse, the accused student's information. An attorney advisor can also help educate and prepare the accused student to speak factually, only about things the student actually knows from first-hand observation, deliberately, and without guess, conjecture, or speculation. That's why students accused of academic misconduct should consult an attorney advisor before rushing in to speak with school misconduct officials.

Academic Misconduct Defense Attorney Available. Don't be concerned whether you can find a skilled and experienced academic misconduct defense attorney in time to help you with your school proceeding. And don't settle for a local attorney who lacks the knowledge and skill necessary to aggressively and effectively defend you against academic misconduct charges. Instead, consult and retain premier academic misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Lento helps hundreds of college and university students nationwide determine how best to deal with school officials to defend and defeat unsupported, unfair, and mistaken academic misconduct charges. Call 888.535.3686 or go online.

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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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