Hazing Laws on College Campuses

Hazing is a type of ceremony in which many fraternities or sororities will harass, abuse, or humiliate new pledges as a way of initiating them into a group. Hazing can range from something as benign as pranks to something that borders on patterns of abuse or criminal misconduct. Florida is one of the states that enacting a law specifically addressing hazing.

In 2005, the Florida House of Representatives passed the Chad Meredith Act, named after a student who drowned during a hazing incident. After drinking with two officers of a fraternity, Meredith and a group of other students tried to swim across Lake Osceola. With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.13, Meredith was unable to swim properly, and he drowned 34 feet from shore in 6 feet and 9 inches of water.

According to the state of Florida, hazing includes any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation, admission into, or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution.

If you or a group of people are accused of hazing, you could be charged with a 3rd-degree felony if the initiation act results in serious bodily injury or death. This charge could lead to up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if the situation only creates a substantial risk of physical injury or death to another person, you could face a 1st-degree misdemeanor. A misdemeanor could get you up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Actions that could be considered hazing include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pressuring a student into violating state or federal laws
  • Any brutality of a physical nature (for example, whipping, beating, exposure to elements, or forced consumption of food or alcohol)
  • Any activity that could subject the student to extreme mental stress (such as sleep deprivation)
  • Other forced actions that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of a student

Make sure you give yourself the best chance of avoiding a felony or a misdemeanor conviction by talking to a skilled Daytona Beach criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Buckmaster & Ellzey has more than 20 years of legal experience to offer your case. Let us help you defend your rights and freedom and protect your future.

Contact us at (888) 785-6548 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

Categories: Criminal Defense