Students accused of academic misconduct may think they can handle it without legal guidance. Often, colleges and universities do not allow the presence of a lawyer during disciplinary hearings. And those who do otherwise, may not let a lawyer speak on behalf of the accused, ask questions, cross-examine the accused, or present evidence. And cases that involve academic misconduct don’t permit discovery or depositions. However, should an accused student hire a lawyer for academic misconduct?
Understanding Academic Misconduct
Depending on the college or university and its code of conduct, the age of the accused, and the kind of school, academic misconduct may include cheating, bullying, drug possession, underage drinking, plagiarism, and sexual assault and harassment. What students do off-campus may be subject to a disciplinary or misconduct hearing in school, particularly when the institution thinks the off-campus misconduct shows a risk to other members of the school community. Students who allegedly committed a more serious offense may face a criminal investigation; however, the criminal case is separate from the misconduct charge.
What Happens When a Student is Found Responsible for Academic Misconduct?
Penalties for academic misconduct can be serious and far-reaching. A student can face probation, suspension, or expulsion. In fact, they can also lose scholarships and other privileges. With a misconduct notation on their record, the student may not be able to get accepted to some schools or graduate programs. In fact, as employers will review their records, the student may find it hard to land a decent job.
Because academic misconduct carries with it severe consequences and penalties, an accused student must seek legal advice and guidance. The lawyer will make sure the school adheres to proper protocol when investigating the case and offer every student procedural fairness.
Can a Lawyer Take Part in a Disciplinary Hearing?
At the majority of higher education institutions, students accused of academic misconduct will appear before a disciplinary committee. This committee is usually composed of students, school staff, or faculty members. The school may hold a formal or informal hearing.
While some colleges permit accused students to have a legal advisor present during a disciplinary hearing, others simply don’t. And those who permit may just allow someone from the school as an advisor. But, even if a lawyer can’t take part in the hearing, an accused student should still consult with them once they are notified of disciplinary action against them. The attorney can review the circumstances and facts of the case and advise the student accordingly.