Looking for a new job can be stressful. A resume is your calling card with potential employers. Everyone wants to look as qualified, diversified, and certified as possible. Education is often the key to success and many people are looking for online college degree programs to accommodate their busy schedules. But some people are looking for shortcuts. You have probably the term “diploma mill” before. All online institutions are not created equal. But be careful what online institution you claim to have a degree from…you just might commit a crime:
A person commits an offense if they use or claim to hold a postsecondary degree and that person knows:
- Is a fraudulent or substandard degree;
- Is fictitious or has otherwise not been granted to the person; or
- Has been revoked; AND
The person uses or claims to hold that degree:
- in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business
OR with the intent to:
- Obtain employment; or
- Obtain a license or certificate to practice in a trade, profession, or occupation; or
- Obtain a promotion, a compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation; or
- Obtain admission to an education program in this state; or
- Gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation for the position.
This offense is a Class B misdemeanor. But wait…there’s more! If the conduct that constitutes an offense under this section ALSO constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor may be prosecuted under this section or the other law. Now, if you give a prosecutor the choice between a felony charge and a misdemeanor one…well, it doesn’t take a pretend rocket scientist to figure out what route they are likely to take!
Seeing is believing! Check out the statute: Texas Penal Code Section 32.52. There are some additional definitions you should see. Also, see the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for a list of some educational institutions that have been identified as illegal.