As the new school year approaches, there are concerns about acts of violence on high school and college campuses in the form of hazing. The act of hazing is perpetuated as a cultural norm, despite anti-hazing laws. In Florida, hazing is a public health issue and a criminal offense with harsh penalties. It is defined as the act of endangering physical or mental health, usually as an initiation rite into a club or organization that operates under the sanction of an educational institution.
Hazing is generally an under-reported crime. It is on the rise, with more violent acts and younger victims. According to the National Study of Student Hazing, the survey responses of 11,000 plus students, on 53 college campuses, reported that 55% had experienced some form of hazing. It is present in fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, performing arts organizations, recreational clubs, academic clubs, and others.
Hazing takes a variety of forms, including, but is not limited to:
- Coercing another into violating state or federal laws
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Forced consumption of alcohol, drugs, food, or other substances
- Extreme mental abuse and humiliation
Examples of criminal activities associated with hazing are theft, assault & battery, harassment, extortion, trespassing, sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, and wrongful death. A person arrested for intentionally or recklessly committing an act that places a member of a student organization at substantial risk of physical injury or death has committed a first-degree misdemeanor. A person that commits an act of hazing against a member of a student organization that results in serious bodily injury or death commits a third-degree felony. It is not a defense to have the consent of the victim to participate in the act.
Anti- Hazing Laws
- The Chad Meredith Act was named after a student at a Florida University, who died in a hazing incident in 2001. It was signed into law by former Governor Jeb Bush in 2005, making hazing a criminal offense.
- Andrew’s law was named after Andrew Coffey, a former student at Florida State University. He was a fraternity pledge that died in November 2017 from an act of hazing.
This legislation, signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, enacted more stringent hazing laws that went into effect on 10/1/19. It has a provision of immunity for persons present for a hazing but administers first aid, calls for medical assistance, and stays with the victim until help arrives. This upgrade in the law was created to reduce hazing-related deaths. Additionally, it holds persons culpable that are not present for the hazing but had planned the event.
The AP Law Group can Protect your Freedom and your Future.
If you or your child are being investigated or have been arrested for the crime of hazing, it is critical that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Legal convictions or student conduct code violations can have a significant impact on the course of your life. In addition to penalties imposed by state and federal criminal courts of law, there can be civil lawsuits, fines, suspension, or dismissal from educational institutions and the withholding of diplomas and transcripts. Attorneys Tania Alavi and Andrew Pozzuto are seasoned litigators that can protect against misdemeanor, felony, or juvenile crimes in state and federal courts. We have experience representing students for conduct code violations at the University of Florida.
Our law firm has an extensive presence throughout state and federal courts in Gainesville, Ocala, and the surrounding counties. As experienced trial lawyers, we aggressively pursue legal strategies to help our clients. To speak with a quality criminal defense attorney, call The AP Law Group for an appointment at 352-732-9191.