Should You Hire a Lawyer when Facing an Academic Misconduct Accusation?

Should You Hire a Lawyer when Facing an Academic Misconduct Accusation?

An academic misconduct accusation can leave you feeling shattered. And you might be wondering whether or not you need an academic misconduct attorney to help you. In fact, someone might have told you that you don’t need a lawyer since an academic misconduct hearing is meant to determine if you violated the code of conduct of your college or university. Also, your school may not permit a lawyer’s presence at the disciplinary hearing. And if the school permits them, the lawyer may not be allowed to speak for you, present evidence, or ask questions. Also, academic misconduct cases don’t permit discovery or depositions, unlike the court system. However, is it necessary to hire an attorney?

What Constitutes Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct is defined differently in schools. But, generally, it includes underage drinking, harassment, bullying, cheating, sexual assault, theft, gang activity, and other offenses. What a student does outside of their school can become a subject of a disciplinary hearing, particularly when the school thinks the conduct poses a threat to other members of the school community. Students who commit more serious offenses can face a criminal investigation, which is separate from the academic misconduct charge. 

How a Student Can be Penalized for Academic Misconduct

Every college or university has specific rules and penalties for academic misconduct. These penalties can be serious and long-lasting. They include suspension, probation, loss of student housing, loss of financial aid or scholarship, or even expulsion. Also, a record of academic misconduct can prevent a student from being accepted to some colleges or graduate programs. In fact, employers may review a student’s disciplinary record, possibly preventing them from getting employment. If the misconduct is discovered after the student has graduated, the school may rescind their degree. This can lead to the person being terminated from their job or disqualified from other jobs that require such a degree. 

What a Lawyer Can Do

If you are facing an academic misconduct charge, you might be required to appear before a panel composed of faculty, college staff, or students. Some schools may let a student appear with an advisor at the hearing. But, some schools only allow advisors who are faculty members, fellow students, or school staff. If your school allows an outsider to be your advisor, you can bring with you a lawyer. 

But, even if your lawyer is not allowed at the hearing, they can still help you collect evidence or find witnesses to support your defense. Also, they can determine whether your college or university has adhered to its rules and guidelines.