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Protecting the Rights of College Students Accused of Plagiarism

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools

Case Results

Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.

Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings

Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.

Large private university

Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation

We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.

Small private college

Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed

Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.

Midsized private college

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Client Testimonials

I was introduced to Attorney Duffy by my criminal defense attorney because I was fighting both a criminal charge and a conduct code violations charge. Felice's office responded right away and she and I met by Zoom video. She and her team were respectful, professional and super knowledgeable. They made everything clear and easily understandable. They knew exactly what questions to ask the school officials to get them to focus on the facts that supported my case. I was incredibly well prepared. I knew what I was going to say before I went in to my interviews and how to react to the many questions that would have tripped me up. I got probation, which was definitely the best possible outcome and I couldn’t have gotten that without Attorney Duffy’s help.

College Junior

“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You're presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.

Felice's truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. She made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). She worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right person in his corner to defend him. Felice gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.

Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for.

I have already recommended Felice to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend her to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a private college senior

“I selected the firm after doing extensive research trying to locate an attorney that specializes in sexual assault cases on university campuses. Late one night I emailed her for a consult just to see what she had to say. By 6:30am the next morning she had already emailed me back leaving her information for me to call her. I was impressed by her promptness and early morning response. Our criminal attorney informed our family that this simply wasn’t his specialty and strongly recommended we hire someone who really understood how university disciplinary systems work.

In our culture, we are not often trusting and it took a huge step of faith to consider someone we didn’t know (much less one from out of state) to defend our son.

Based on her collegiate athletic background I felt that she would have a better understanding of our case as our son is a D1 athlete. Based on that and her professional accomplishments I felt like she was driven and determined and she clearly had the ability to understand the laws associated with Title IX.

Bottom line is that our son was found 100% not responsible (meaning not guilty) of the extremely serious charges that were brought against him by a female student.

Felice Duffy and her team were professional, focused, responsive and did a great job throughout the entire stressful ordeal. When we think about how badly and unfairly our son might have been treated by the school, we truly count our blessings that we found Ms. Duffy.”

Parent of a College Sophomore, Ohio

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Schools Where We've Handled Cases

Here are just some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Dartmouth College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Lesley University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Mississippi University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • Yale University

All colleges and universities take academic honesty seriously and most schools enforce a no-tolerance policy against plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to taking the work, words, or ideas of another party and presenting them as your own. College codes of conduct categorize many different acts as “plagiarism”—including self-plagiarism.

If you were accused of any type of plagiarism, your academic and professional future is at stake. Protect your rights against wrongful allegations or overly harsh punishment by calling Duffy Law. The highly experienced Conduct Code attorneys at Duffy Law defend the rights of students accused of plagiarism, so call our office today if you would like to discuss your situation.

What Constitutes Plagiarism

Plagiarism can involve intentionally stealing words from others or even unintentionally forgetting to properly cite someone else’s words. If a student does not provide proper credit for the original source, the following may all constitute forms of plagiarism:

  • Direct quotes
  • Paraphrasing a quote
  • Summarizing ideas
  • Misrepresenting research or data
  • Forgery of research or data
  • Using another person’s complete work

In addition to the above, plagiarism accusations may arise if you simply make a mistake on a citation. Even if you intended to properly give credit for the work, a wrong citation could result in serious plagiarism repercussions.

Another form of plagiarism is called self-plagiarism, and it involves taking ideas that you have previously used in academic works or papers and presenting them again for another assignment without properly citing the information. Many students may believe that using their own ideas again is perfectly acceptable since they are not copying anyone else’s work. However, all students should realize that many colleges prohibit this as part of their anti-plagiarism provisions. Even if students check with professors first, they still may later find themselves accused of self-plagiarism.

Plagiarism and the Internet

While universities have always considered plagiarism academic misconduct, it has become a bigger and more common issue in recent years because of the ubiquity of the internet. The internet first gives students access to a wealth of information they otherwise might never have found through book research. A quick Google search will reveal hundreds of websites that may address a paper or research topic, giving students more sources to choose from—and more opportunities to make mistakes regarding citations.

In addition, the internet has given professors the tools to check papers for plagiarism in a few seconds. Plagiarism checkers scan the depths of the internet and point out any instances in which content is not unique. This could consist of entire paragraphs, sentences, or even strings of words, and the plagiarism checker will show the source website for that information. This makes it all too simple for professors to find any possible indications of plagiarism and make accusations.

Even if you believe your work is original, there is a chance that a sentence or phrase is too similar to other content on the internet without you even knowing. All students should put their own papers through an online plagiarism checker before turning them in to ensure they did not unintentionally commit plagiarism.

Consequences for Plagiarism

A plagiarism accusation can result in drastic consequences for any student. The consequences that you may face will depend on your school’s academic honesty policies as well as the nature of the accusations against you. Some sanctions can include:

  • An F on the assignment
  • An F for the class
  • Administrative withdrawal from the class
  • Suspension from school
  • Expulsion from school

Any of the above can hurt your future and make it difficult to transfer to a different college, obtain scholarships, get accepted to graduate programs, apply for professional licenses, and more. An F can destroy a GPA in one fell swoop, and a student may never be able to get that GPA back to where it once was.

While an administrative withdrawal does not necessarily hurt your GPA, you can bet that anyone reviewing your transcript as part of an application will question you about it. Some grad programs or licensure boards will not accept applicants with records of dishonesty.

A suspension or expulsion from school can leave you with unnecessary debt or even with a mountain of student loans, no degree, and few prospects for continuing your education. It is an understatement to say that plagiarism consequences can be serious.

What to Do if You’ve Been Accused

If a professor accuses you of plagiarism, you have the right to defend against these accusations and protect your academic record from negative marks. You may have a formal disciplinary hearing at which you can testify to your intentions and any honest mistakes that school officials have construed as plagiarism. These hearings can produce a lot of stress, however, with fewer rules and procedures than criminal hearings. Always discuss your situation with an experienced college student defense law firm that can help you craft your defense.

In some cases, a professor may try to offer a deal involving lesser consequences if the student will admit to and apologize for the plagiarism. However, a professor does not always have the discretion to make decisions regarding consequences of plagiarism. If you write an apology or admittance letter, the school may later use it against you at a formal hearing. Always check with an experienced lawyer before you agree to anything.

Contact Our Student Defense Attorneys to Discuss Your Rights Today

The highly knowledgeable Conduct Code attorneys at Duffy Law have represented many students accused of academic dishonesty or other codes of conduct violations. We know how seriously a mark on your record can hurt your future and will help you fight against allegations whenever possible. There is too much at stake for college students to not take plagiarism allegations seriously and protect their records by seeking legal counsel. If you are accused of plagiarism, please call an experienced defense lawyer at (203) 946-2000 or contact us online to set up a consultation.

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