Hazing is defined under New York Penal Law §120.16 as intentionally placing another person in a painful or humiliating situation as initiation into an organization, such as a school, military, sport team, or workplace. The nature of hazing is that it is kept secretive and is done for the purpose of initiation or pledging. It is either committed by just one person or with a group.
Some of the specific actions that can be classified as hazing include:
- Physical brutality – Whipping, branding, beating etc.
- Activity that threatens the body – Sleep deprivation, extreme weather, confinement, etc.
- Forced consumption of any substance that could cause harm
- Actions that cause an unreasonable amount of distress
- Practices that go against the code of conduct of the organization
How Charges of Hazing Arise
If just one person participates in, encourages, or has knowledge of the act of hazing, they can face a charge of hazing. If the act was organized by the institution at any level, the individuals involved will face criminal consequences and the organization will be financially penalized. This used to simply be a matter of disciplinary action from the school, but it is now regularly enforced in criminal court.
Consequences of Hazing
Students on a college campus will be subject to a possible disciplinary hearing, as well as suspension or expulsion. They can also be criminally charged. This can include a non-criminal violation and misdemeanor charges. In New York, efforts have been taken to increase the sentence of hazing from a misdemeanor to a high felony.
As a college student facing criminal charges because of hazing, you have reason to take immediate action and get strong representation. Even if you did not have nefarious motives, you can still face criminal charges and accrue a record that jeopardizes your future goals. This is not what you want on your record after your hard work at college.
Keep in mind that having the victim “consent” to the hazing is not an actual defense. In many cases, this consent is unreasonably expected or even forced.
If you or someone has been accused of hazing in college or another situation, you will need to get the best legal representation that you can find. Contact our experienced team of New York criminal defense attorneys to schedule your free case evaluation.