Cheating on the SAT: A Moral or Legal Crime?

Recently, a Long Island SAT cheating scandal made national news.  I have been fascinated by this case since the story broke. It is a personal one as I am a graduate of Great Neck North High School, the birthplace of the scandal.  I am also interested in the case as a former prosecutor (Manhattan District Attorney’s Office) and now as a criminal defense attorney: The case is a perfect intersection of my specialty areas: white collar crime and the defense of young adults.To begin, the main question for me is, “Can cheating on a college entrance exam be categorized as a criminal act? And, if it can should it be?”

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office has charged numerous teens with various forgery crimes and false impersonation and conspiracy charges. Their theory is that numerous students paid large sums of money for an individual to impersonate them and take the SAT in their stead.  The test-taker Sam Eshagoff has admitted to the acts and articulated his conduct on a recent 60 Minutes interview. [Read more…]