College and university students who have been accused of hazing can face serious consequences that may include suspension or expulsion from the university, as well as criminal consequences in some cases. Many colleges and universities across the country have codes of conduct that prohibit hazing, but hazing is also illegal under numerous state laws.
Indeed, at least 44 states currently have laws that prohibit hazing, and some of those states say that hazing is a felony offense when it leads to another person’s serious injury or death. The specific details of hazing laws vary from state to state, with some states enforcing more severe punishments for hazing whether it occurs on university campuses or elsewhere.
If you are facing hazing charges or disciplinary action for engaging in hazing, you should seek advice from a university hazing lawyer who can assist with your defense.
Code of Conduct Violations and Hazing
Many colleges and universities have anti-hazing policies in their student codes of conduct. Accordingly, when a student is alleged to have engaged in hazing as part of a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, or another organization, that student can face disciplinary action regardless of whether the hazing resulted in anyone’s injury or death. While a student code of conduct is not a law that can result in criminal charges or criminal consequences, a violation and disciplinary hearing can result in serious repercussions that may include, for example:
- Removal from a fraternity or sorority
- Loss of university housing privileges
- Loss of educational funding, including university scholarships
- University probation
While many hazing incidents may not result in criminal charges, they can result in code of conduct cases and disciplinary hearings that can have a permanent effect on a student’s future.
Criminal Laws Prohibiting Hazing
All states in the U.S. except Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota have anti-hazing laws. Hazing can take many different forms according to state laws, and students can face criminal charges for actions that involve forced consumption of alcohol or drugs, assault, sexual assault, branding, and other behaviors. Most of these states that have anti-hazing laws define hazing as any method for initiating a student or a person into an organization such as a fraternity or sorority and that either causes or is likely to cause physical harm.
Depending upon the specific details of the alleged offense, a college or university student who is charged with hazing can face consequences of a misdemeanor or felony offense upon conviction. Even misdemeanor offenses in many states can result in jail time and substantial monetary penalties.
You should know that a college or university student can also face criminal charges for hazing in states that do not have anti-hazing laws. Any actions that constitute assault or another criminal offense under state law may result in charges. Students who are facing disciplinary action because of a code of conduct violation or criminal charges for hazing under state law should seek help as soon as possible from an experienced college hazing defense attorney.