Consequences of Plagiarism

Plagiarism updated on  September 5, 2023 4 min read

Plagiarism can lead to a fall from grace and a fall in grades.

The consequences of plagiarism vary greatly and can range from suspension from school to loss of a job, to potential jail time. They can and will affect one's academic standing, professional reputation, and personal life, not to mention the lives of others.

The best way to avoid these serious consequences is to avoid plagiarism entirely.

What is plagiarism, exactly?

In short, plagiarism is the reuse of words or ideas from another source without giving proper credit to the original source. There are many types of plagiarism, including:

Plagiarism is theft, and there are many academic and legal ramifications of stealing someone else's work.

What are the consequences of plagiarism?

Academic Problems

High schools and colleges do not mess around when it comes to plagiarism. The serious consequences of plagiarising in school include, but are not limited to:

  • Suspension
  • Class or grade failure
  • Ban from extracurriculars
  • Ruined academic reputation
  • Expulsion

Depending on the school and its policies, plagiarism could go on a student's permanent record, following them from one academic institution to the next. This could impact undergraduate and graduate admissions as well.

Can you go to jail for plagiarism? depends.

In US law, plagiarism is often covered by fraud, intellectual property, and copyright laws. If the plagiarism falls under copyright infringement, the author of the plagiarized content can file a lawsuit against the plagiarizer and take legal action.

The legal consequences of plagiarism can include jail time if it’s serious enough to be a misdemeanour or felony. You may also have to pay fines. Both of these penalties are higher when the plagiarist gains money from the theft.

Many other countries have similar laws, but may view plagiarism as a criminal offense rather than a civil offense.

Professional Problems

Plagiarism can have very serious consequences at work, no matter the field in which you're employed. It can cost you your job, a promotion, a big project or goal, or the respect of your co-workers.

These are some examples of well-publicized plagiarism cases that damaged the plagiarizer’s career:

The publication of The publication of a writer’s first novel was canceled when she admitted to plagiarizing some of its ideas. Ironically, an essay she wrote about the cancellation for Literary Hub contained plagiarism, too.

NBC News fired a reporter after finding that she had plagiarized content from other news sites in 11 of her articles.

In law school, President Joe Biden included five pages of a Fordham Law Review article in a paper he submitted as his own work. Under the pressure of news stories about this action and his plagiarism of speeches written by other politicians, he had to withdraw from the 1987 presidential race.

Word travels, and if you lose your job due to plagiarism, that reputation will follow you throughout your career. It will be harder to find new jobs and advance in your field.

Financial Problems

The financial consequences of plagiarism are usually the result of a larger consequence.

  • If you're suspended from college, you've wasted tuition money.
  • If you're suspended from college, you've wasted tuition money.
  • If you lose your job, you lose your source of income.
  • If you're sued due to copyright infringement, you'll have large fines to pay.
  • Plagiarism rarely results in just one repercussion. It's like a ripple effect: one consequence begets another, and so on and so forth.

Personal Development Problems

It's hard to grow without learning, and it's hard to grow without failure. If you copy someone else's work, you're not challenging yourself or thinking on your own.

Not only is plagiarism a serious offense that could result in a prison sentence, but it's something that will taint your reputation forever. It is a shady, unethical practice that will make people wary of your intentions.

Problems for Other People

Yes, the consequences of plagiarism can be profound and far-reaching. But what about the target of the theft, or the audience you duped into thinking they were reading original material?

You might be surprised at just how many people your actions can affect.

Businesses and schools can see their reputations damaged and innovation stifled by employees and students who commit plagiarism.

People whose work is plagiarized won’t get credit or earn what they would if they were properly cited or paid.

Everyone deserves credit for their own work. When you plagiarize something, even if it's just a sentence, you are damaging the lives of countless people.

How can I avoid plagiarism?

The first step in avoiding plagiarism is recognizing what a huge problem it is. After reading the arguments above, you may have already done that—good for you!

The two most helpful tools you can use to recognize and avoid plagiarism are:

  1. Citation Generator. This will ensure that every source you use is properly cited and every author is properly credited for their ideas and words.

Need to Cite sources used by you?
QuillBot's Citation Generator will enable you in quickly creating citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles.

2. Plagiarism Checker. This will scan your essay to determine how much of your work is duplicated from elsewhere, prompting you to add citations where it's necessary.

Check plagiarism for your text now
QuillBot's detects plagiarism in your text and makes sure that it is polished and error-free

With the right tools at hand and a determination to write ethically, you’re fully equipped to avoid plagiarism—and the stiff penalties that come with it.

What happens to students who plagiarize?

Schools don’t take academic dishonesty lightly. For students, the consequences of plagiarism can range from mild to very serious. In high school, you may get a lower grade for the plagiarized assignment or be suspended. In college, you may fail the course or be expelled. In all cases, the offense can end up on your permanent record.

Is plagiarism actually a crime, or is it just something schools care about?

Plagiarism in school or college can lead to varying consequences, and these cases are not usually crimes according to the law. However, plagiarism that leads to financial gain often is, and it can come with consequences that are more severe, including jail time and hefty fines.


Hannah Skaggs

Along with Paige Pfeifer

Hannah, a writer and editor since 2017, specializes in clear and concise academic and business writing. She has mentored countless scholars and companies in writing authoritative and engaging content.

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