Student conduct and academic integrity cases are fraught with peril for the respondents and require wise choices in order to avoid bad outcomes.
These choices come in a variety of guises and aren't always easy to sensibly analyze. Many attorneys who do this sort of work are uncertain of how to approach different phases of the process and the following constitutes a brief rumination on how to approach this tricky business. Sometimes you have to be cagey in evaluating whether being forthcoming about your suspect actions will serve more to convict you rather than elicit a sympathetic response from the prospective reporting professor.
1). If you have been alerted by your professor that he or she suspects something is funny about your paper, quiz or exam, be honest with yourself. If you cheated or in some way violated the specific instructions of the project and the professor is reaching out to you, that might be an opportunity ( often short-lived) to admit to it and ask if they will consider foregoing a report to the Office of Student Conduct with you getting a zero or reduced grade.
This is a fork in the road because sometimes you admit something the professor isn't sure about or doesn't understand the extent of and you don't want to make things worse.
If that doesn't work maybe you can withdraw from the course and prevent yourself from receiving an 'XF' in the class with the problems that would create. To be clear Professors have to do a lot of work to follow through on these things and would generally prefer not to.
2). If you can't forestall being reported to the Office of Student Conduct but have had the opportunity to correspond with the referring professor find out what sort of sanction they would recommend and if it isn't an 'XF' consider yourself fortunate. If you have a reason this occurred ( sickness in your family, overwhelmed by schoolwork, stressed out etc.) see what reaction you get from the Professor.
If they don't want to crush you OSC may go along with their proposed sanction which can save a lot of time, stress and money.
3). If the Professor has communicated a substantial sanction and has reported you to OSC then a different analysis is necessary. Each school has somewhat different procedures but for the purposes of this discussion we will focus on the construct at the University of Maryland College Park. Most schools have somewhat similar structures and procedures.
At this point a more adversarial stance may become necessary. Be polite and respectful but recognize that the machinery at OSC relies on students effectively assisting in convicting themselves. There is no reason to admit ANYTHING.