The Severity of Hazing Charges among Florida College Students
Every year, there are stories of college students who find themselves in trouble for incidents of hazing on university campuses. Earlier this year, a Huffington Post article reported on Florida State University students who were arrested on suspicions of hazing within their fraternity. According to the report, the arrests were made following a three-month investigation, which began from an anonymous tip. Incidents reportedly happened during sporting events, parties and fraternity gatherings. The article reports that the most disturbing act occurred when pledges were forced to tape bottles of liquor to their hands and encouraged to finish the bottles as quickly as possible. They were reportedly disallowed from using the bathroom during the incident, resulting in several of them becoming sick to their stomachs, vomiting and urinating on themselves. Police arrested the four students who they allege to have organized and carried out the hazing, according to reports.
Last year, the news was filled with reports of a hazing incident that resulted in the death of a Florida A&M University band member. CNN, along with several other news outlets, reported that 12 students were arrested on manslaughter charges. They were initially charged with felony hazing resulting in death, but the prosecutor ultimately decided to upgrade the charges. The deceased band member allegedly died after a hazing incident that involved a beating aboard a school band bus. According to reports, he ran down the aisle of the bus, while other band members struck and kicked him. The victim died with one hour of the incident, with the final medical examination ruling it a homicide. The arrested college students are facing a maximum of 15 years incarceration.
Florida Hazing Laws
Hazing is a common element of the college experience. Generally, it consists of some type of initiation activity for new members of fraternities, sport teams or other organizations. Though it does not always involve injury to a party, the practice has a negative connotation, as causing harm psychologically or physically to those hazed. The state of Florida is particularly hard on incidents of hazing. Under state statute, it is defined as “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 or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a post secondary institution.”
- Misdemeanor hazing occurs when a party intentionally participates in hazing and the act results in a substantial risk of physical injury or death to another. The offense carries a possible maximum sentence of one year in jail.
- Felony hazing occurs when a party intentionally participates in hazing and the act ultimately results in physical injury or death to another. The offense carries a possible maximum sentence of five years in jail.
By participating in hazing, college students risk their entire futures. Not only can they face the hazing charges, but they may be additionally charged with allegations of assault or manslaughter. It is sad to think that the mistakes of a young person can ruin a potentially bright future. That’s why it is so important for students in this situation to secure the services of an experienced lawyer.
If you or your child has been charged with a hazing offense, contact the Miami based firm of Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at 305-600-3519 for a confidential and free consultation.