Have You Been Charged With Hazing?

Hazing occurs in high schools and colleges across the country, notwithstanding extensive publicity detailing the dangers associated with it, in concert with laws on the books penalizing those who perpetuate it. Here in California, we have seen our fair share of hazing resulting in horrendous outcomes: 

  • A high school football player in Rancho Cucamonga pleaded with teammates to stop while held in a chokehold and beaten with a belt in the locker room of the school.
  • A student attending a Riverside college died of heart failure in the course of five weeks of physical abuse.
  • A college student in San Diego fell into a coma after being forced to consume drugs and alcohol while pledging to a campus fraternity.
  • Another San Diego college student died after falling out of his upper bunk in a drunken stupor resulting from fraternity hazing.
  • Alcohol and forced physical exertion led to the shuttering of two fraternities at a single California university.
  • Sexual assault and heavy drinking and drug use, including a naked rookie show, resulted in a lawsuit against one San Diego college.
  • A high school student in Santa Ana suffered a broken nose and other injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, after teammates reportedly punched him in the head in a locker room initiation to the football team.

California Law

Penal Code 245.6—Matt’s Law– criminalizes hazing in California. Anyone who participates in these types of initiation activities in a California school or recognized educational institution can be charged with a crime, whether or not injuries occur. Penalties could include a $5,000 fine and/or a year behind bars. Perpetrators may also be subject to civil lawsuits,

Recently introduced but not yet passed Assembly Bill 2193—Tyler’s Law—will allow for civil liability for California institutions of higher learning under certain conditions if passed into law:

  • There was clear and direct involvement in the hazing;
  • They knew or should have known about the activities occurring as part of initiations;
  • There were no reasonable steps taken to prevent the hazing activities.

What Constitutes Hazing Under California Law?

Hazing is defined as initiation into a club or team at a high school or college in the state that has a likelihood of resulting in physical harm. It can encompass any form of brutality, from beating and branding to forced consumption of alcohol and other substances, including even exposure to bad weather. It could be simply a matter of forcing outlandish exercises or in any way requiring pledges to complete tasks that could lead to physical duress.

Have You Been Charged with Hazing?

If you are confronting hazing charges, you are likely troubled about the possible consequences. That is precisely why a strong defense is needed. Your defense team may focus on establishing an alibi or demonstrating that the accuser was never in any physical danger. In any case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and the circumstances of the situation will guide your attorney toward the best possible defense.

The Defense You Deserve

You have a constitutional right to a defense, and the attorneys at Boertje & Associates take that very seriously. We are dedicated to providing a robust defense against any charges, always fighting for the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office right away.

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