Academic Misconduct Ruins More Than Just A Class. Protect Your Academic – And Professional – Future.
How often are people judged “guilty” before being allowed their side of the story – especially in the politically charged environment of a college campus?
Don’t face academic misconduct charges alone. JC Law will be at your side, advising your case in private hearings and defending your rights in court, if necessary.
What Is Considered “Academic Misconduct” By Maryland Schools?
Every school – from the public elementary school to the highest tier private university – has codified the behavior and values they expect from their students. Breaking these expectations and rules is considered “academic misconduct.”
Academic misconduct may involve:
- Academic dishonesty, such as cheating on a test or plagiarizing another’s work
- Helping another student to commit academic dishonesty, such as selling exam questions to underclassmen
- Lying to professors and other authority figures to try to get out of trouble
- Having a member of the opposite sex over to a dorm room when policies prohibit such behavior
These are more “innocent” examples of potential misconduct.
However, in some cases, the evidence unearthed during a college disciplinary proceeding may translate to state or federal-level criminal charges.
For instance, if a student is accused of violating Title IX sexual harassment and discrimination laws, the school authorities may choose to cooperate with state or federal prosecutors, sharing evidence relating to the alleged events.
Depending on the seriousness of the charges, the student may be at risk of jail time, heavy fines, and the life-long stigma of a felony charge.
Is Academic Misconduct Against Maryland State Law?
Academic misconduct can be against Maryland law – depending on what the alleged offenses are.
For example, breaking of college-specific rules such as cheating or plagiarism are usually left to the university or college in question to discipline.
(Few professors call the police if they catch a student copying their term paper from an upperclassman.)
However, there are violations of academic codes of conduct that can rise to the level of law enforcement.
Drug and weapons charges, underage drinking or DUIs, and even hazing allegations may involve Maryland police investigations resulting in misdemeanor or felony charges.
These Maryland legal charges would be in addition to any punishments the university in question would hand down – if the student is found guilty.
Some of the most common college student misconduct categories our clients face that result in “real” criminal charges include:
- Theft and robbery
- Vandalism or graffiti
- Sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault
- Possession of illegal drugs
- Underage drinking
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
Are Allegations Of Academic Misconduct Shared With Other Schools?
Whether disciplinary and other records are attached to a school transcript – such as before a job interview or during a transfer application – depends on the university in question.
However, as a rule, currently, most universities do not automatically include on-campus disciplinary information – including charges, convictions, and punishments – as a default part of their academic transcripts.
In part, this policy is due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. Federal law protects students’ personal and educational information and prohibits certain records from being automatically shared without a student’s consent.
(It’s similar to HIPAA, the medical privacy law that doesn’t let your doctor share health information without your permission.)
That said, not all universities keep to this standard. Some are working with their lawyers to find ways to alert other schools of possible future academic misconduct from transfer students while not breaking FERPA. New York and New Jersey both require disciplinary action notations on transcripts.
Schools can also ask about previous charges, convictions, or punishments while screening potential students. Lying or hiding from answering such direct questions can result in an immediate dismissal as soon as the school discovers the subterfuge.
Therefore, the best way to avoid issues with academic misconduct as part of your school history is to avoid convictions of such behavior to begin with. And, that starts with retaining a good lawyer who understands academic misconduct cases.
Why Do I Need A Lawyer At An Academic Misconduct Hearing?
Even if you are only facing an investigation from your school, and not from the criminal justice system, you should consider hiring skilled legal representation to defend your rights.
Colleges often try to obscure those rights, prioritizing the testimony of alleged victims and witnesses in lieu of listening to your side of the story.
Sometimes, boards can be so scared of going “easy” on someone already judged guilty in the court of public opinion, that they steamroller the accused – even if they’re actually innocent of the alleged crime.
Therefore, many colleges allow a student to bring their personal counsel to hearings on-campus, even if it’s a private meeting. The lawyer can advise a student on how to best navigate the subcurrents behind the accusations and possible punishments, as well as how to present their case in the most beneficial light.
At the very least, you wouldn’t be alone facing the powerful authority figures at your college.
Our firm has over 25 years of experience serving the accused throughout Maryland, from young adults in college to professionals to veteran retirees. Our lawyers know how terrifying it can be to face an accusation, especially an unjustified one, and will make sure you don’t feel alone in this process.
Don’t let a conviction mar your bright future, in the academic world or beyond.
“The office of James Crawford Law was not only efficient and professional, but friendly and treated me like family. Many thanks go out to the team at James Crawford Law.”
Find out what it’s like to work with us.