When a plagiarist is caught, there are consequences. Plagiarism is no trivial offense; it is a violation of copyright law which must be seriously penalized. You should always bear that in mind.1
Consequences at the K-12 Level
At the K-12 educational level, consequences can range from a grade point deduction on the assignment to an outright failing grade. Penalty assignments can additionally be imposed. In severe cases or for repeat offenses, the plagiarist can even be threatened with expulsion from school.2
Consequences at the University Level
At the university level, consequences can range from a disciplinary warning, to an automatic course failure, to an expungement from the student registry or even the full revocation of an academic degree or title.3
Note: Committing plagiarism has extensive repercussions and can irreparably damage one’s reputation. Moreover, it can have the effect of rendering certain career paths — in politics, academia, or the public sector — permanently off limits.
The following excerpts from the law of copyright make clear the legal consequences that you can face, in addition to any other penalties imposed by your school or university:
§ 106 Impermissible Use of Copyright-protected Works
(1) Whoever copies, distributes or publicly displays a work, or a revision or modification of a work, without the permission of the rightful owner and in a manner other than prescribed by law, is to be incarcerated for a period not to exceed three years or penalized with a fine.
(2) Attempted plagiarism is also punishable.4
§ 109 Demand for Legal Redress
In cases under Sections 106 to 108 and 108b, the crime will only be prosecuted in response to a demand for legal redress, except where the prosecuting authority believes it to be in the public interest to intervene officially.5