Hazing traces its roots back to at least the 1600s, but it is no longer legal in most states. In fact, hazing practices have become so extreme that it is estimated that at least one person dies from being hazed every year. When you combine this with all of the people who have suffered adverse consequences such as alcohol poisoning, it is no wonder that hazing is expressly forbidden by most universities.
However, this does not mean that hazing no longer exists. Instead, many fraternities and other organizations have simply taken steps to hide their hazing rituals. In some instances, they have also altered their rituals in a way that can still lead to deadly results. For example, one pledge at California State University Chicago died from being forced to drink too much water.
What Exactly is Hazing?
Hazing is considered to be a way of increasing the bond between a group of people who are in the same organization. It is most common among fraternities and sororities, but there have been reported instances of hazing in a wide list of different places, including professional businesses and the military. During the hazing process, the new members or pledges of an organization are forced to prove their devotion to the group by undergoing a series of tasks and punishments.
For example, a new pledge might be forced to drink an excessive amount of alcohol or they could even be forced to run across campus without any clothes on. At the end of the hazing ritual, the successful pledge is supposed to be welcomed into the fraternity or organization with open arms, and they will then be given the opportunity to haze new members in the future.
Why is Hazing Illegal?
Unless you are in Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota or Wyoming, it is considered to be a crime to participate in hazing. However, even though there are six states that do not have specific anti-hazing laws, this does not mean that you cannot get into legal trouble in those states if your actions cause another person to become seriously injured or die. Additionally, each university in those states has the right to determine their own code of conduct, and you could be expelled if you haze someone.
Hazing has become illegal in most areas because it can lead to serious consequences. As previously mentioned, a pledge in California died from drinking too much water in 2005. In 2011, a member of the Florida A&M marching band died from a hazing related incident. Sadly, these issues are not isolated, and the list of people who have been seriously injured by hazing rituals is very long. Many of these issues involve alcohol poisoning, and a fraternity at Cornell University was found guilty of manslaughter after a pledge died from drinking too much in 2011.
What Will Happen if I am Convicted of Hazing?
The severity of the incident and the state that you are in will determine the legal consequences of your actions. A SanDiego Judge or Minneapolis criminal defense attorney will attest to the fact that if you are involved in a hazing ritual that leads to someone’s death some states will fine of up to $10,000, and you can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.
Because hazing is such a serious issue, it is always best to avoid participating in this practice. However, if you are involved in a hazing incident that leads to a serious injury or death, it is imperative to contact an attorney immediately.
Writer Nickey Williams lived the sorority life for years and acknowledges that hazing is prominent on college campuses, and reasonably cites the dangers that are in direct relation to it. Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Kevin DeVore is aware fully aware of Minnesota’s’ anti-hazing statute and will readily defend any client accused of such behavior in a delicate yet unyielding manner.