In State College, people might be taking part in activities that they think are little more than time-honored rituals and are relatively harmless, but they can lead to a criminal charge if someone becomes injured or there is a complaint about it. People will automatically have a negative reaction to the word “hazing” without knowing what criminal allegations it can lead to and the penalties they might face if there is a conviction. Having a legal defense from a law firm that understands the unique circumstances in a predominately college town is imperative.
Hazing occurs when a person is attempting to initiate, admit or affiliate a student or a minor into an organization and does so in an intentional, knowing and reckless way. The following acts are criminal violations if the person is caused or coerced into doing them as part of the initiation: commit a criminal violation of federal or state law; consume substances that can do physical or emotional damage such as alcohol and certain foods; cause physical brutality like branding, beating and whipping; cause mental abuse such as sleep deprivation, social exclusion and embarrassing acts; sexual brutality; and other acts that could cause injury.
The penalties for hazing will be based on it being a summary offense. This can result in 90 days incarcerated and a fine of $300. If the victim has a reasonable chance of suffering bodily injury, it will be a third-degree misdemeanor. A conviction will lead to as much as one year in jail and a fine of $2,000.
Although these charges will most frequently be misdemeanors, that does not mean the person who is accused should be comfortable dealing with an arrest and the allegations. Accusations of hazing along with a criminal conviction can have a negative impact on a person’s life just when they are getting started as adults. Having a strong defense from a law firm that understands the nuance of providing criminal defense to people accused of hazing and seeking a reasonable resolution is critical.