Skip to main content

Falsely accused of cheating on university final exam. Can I fight this successfully? What should I do?

Los Angeles, CA |

My professor accused me of accessing online course materials (there are logs in my name at different times) during the exam. However, I know that I did not touch any electronic device during that time. I suspect that my smartphone may have refreshed a few pages that were open previously while I was studying beforehand. The university only allows an advocate affiliated with the school to speak at the hearing. An outside lawyer would be unable to. Someone told me that I should look for a tech expert that can vouch for me and say that the above situation is possible, and is more likely than not to have happened. He also said that I should build a defense around the fact that I have always been an A's and B's student with no reason to cheat. Are there ways I can pursue this after the hearing?

I haven't had a hearing scheduled, yet. Where can I find a tech expert for what I need? For example, if it was an iPhone, would I go to an Apple store? I offered to allow the school to investigate my phone through an expert of their choosing, etc, but I was refused.

+ Read More

Filed under: Education law Appeals
Attorney answers 3


You should look for a lawyer who is an alumni of your university. You should also hire a technology expert, I recommend that you contact Californensics in Sacramento, for assistance. They are reputable experts in technology and will be credible experts to explain how and what happened.

If the hearing goes badly for you, you may not have any appeal rights and they may place a notation on your transcript if they discipline you or expel you. You may wish to consult an educational attorney. There are a number of very competent attorneys here on Avvo, use the find an attorney tab.

NO LEGAL ADVICE GIVEN. 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 set forth in a written document executed by the client and by me or a member of my firm. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. 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 case. I can give advice, make recommendations and answer specific questions only after reviewing the evidence and documents applicable to a specific client and following a personal meeting in my office in which the relevant facts can be developed and analyzed. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal administrative law; professional licenses and permits; education law; employment and labor law; and litigation matters in state and federal courts. Our practice is limited to the States of Oregon and California. If you have a case in any other state we would not be able to assist you. Unless we have a signed written fee agreement you are not my or my firm's client.


Most colleges have a legal aid clinic. I know in our area Denver University , Colorado University, and CSU University all do and offer this as a free service to the students (part of their tuition). If they feel that there is a conflict, then you can be referred to outside counsel. This will be handled administratively through an Honor Code committee (I am handling one right now at CU) and they will have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence that you cheated.

The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not considered to be legal advice.


There is comprehensive info here:

The much better defense posture and strategy is to offer to submit the phone to a forensic tech expert/firm of the school's choosing. If you go ahead and hire one, the school is not likely to accept your paid selected expert as truly independent and objective.

It is very unlikely that you have any recourse after the school's internal admin process. And a notation on your transcript would be the least of it. You may be facing expulsion. Talk to a local attorney who is involved with and well-respected by the school -- alum, booster, civic leader, etc.

NOTHING SAID HERE IS LEGAL ADVICE! Read this notice BEFORE you contact me! My posts on Avvo in response to the public's questions are never offered as legal advice. Do not rely on any response posted by me as applicable to your specific problem or circumstances. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions - Answers forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me or my law firm. My law firm does not provide free consultations. See for further details on that issue. Please do not call or email me with a “few questions.” I give advice, make recommendations, and answer specific questions only after reviewing the documentary record and other evidence applicable to a specific client, and only in the course of or following a conference with my client in which all of the relevant information can be identified and developed. AND I give legal advice ONLY in the course of an attorney-client relationship created and defined by a written contract for services, signed by my client and by me or a member of my firm, for which payment has been made. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; professional (State or federal licensing agency) discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic disputes involving universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We accept grievances, administrative claims, arbitrations, mediations, negotiations, and other non-litigation matters pertaining to employment, hospital and facility privileges, tenure, and contractual disputes. We conduct seminars and training in employment law for employers and union advocates, and in issues of professional/occupational licensing law for criminal defense attorneys. We accept NO contingency work, and we take no matters for which CCP discovery is applicable.