Plagiarism is a very dangerous issue for students because there are no fixed standards that define it. The definition of consummated plagiarism varies within individual academic departments, among schools, across cultures, and within and across specific academic disciplines. This leaves students very much at the mercy of the individual personal value systems of instructors and university administrators.
In private universities and colleges, "plagiarism" can be found on virtually any facts alleged by the school because the fact-finding process available to the student is so weak and ineffectual.
One thing is certain: plagiarism is not measured or established by a percentage of overlap or commonality (10%, 1%, etc.), nor by the "results" that are calculated by the detection and analysis software that is widely available to the schools. The software provides a statistical analysis, but it does not serve as a definition or measure for use of that analysis.
The consequences of a plagiarism accusation and finding can be life-changing. You need to talk with a local administrative law attorney who has deep and successful experience in defending students in college and university internal disciplinary processes. These processes vary from school to school. Don't underestimate the situation; this can be terribly serious.
More here: HARD FACTS FOR STUDENTS RE CHEATING, PLAGIARISM, AND OTHER ACADEMIC INTEGRITY VIOLATIONS at http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/hard-facts-for-students-re-cheating-plagiarism-and-other-academic-integrity-violations
Good luck to you.
Christine McCall, License Advocates Law Group
No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.
The burden is on the professor to prove that you plagiarized. Furthermore, the University of Utah is a state actor which means that the U.S. Constitution applies to them. One of the rights in the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees you a right to procedural due process. This means that the University cannot take adverse action against you without following some time of hearing and opportunity to rebut what is being said. Professors has large amounts of discretion regarding the grades they give. However universities especially state universities must follow their own established procedures if they wish to expel you. Anything you tell your professor can be used against you later.