Boys will be boys, we often think. We all know lots of people who were subjected to “hazing”, maybe even we were. Think back to fraternities, sports teams, etc. It was something that everyone went through. It made you one of them!
Hazing is designed all in good fun to embarrasses those being hazed. It lets them prove their loyalty to the other members of the group. Hazing can take many forms – physical labor, alcohol consumption, eating unappetizing things, etc. In short, it humiliates the person being hazed the same way that other members were once embarrassed. At its worst, though, those doing the hazing are more focused on power and control. And it can get out of hand. Just recently, we’ve seen hazing lead to criminal charges if it went too far.
Criminal Charges — For Hazing?
Individuals who began committing what they thought was innocent hazing can be charged with crimes if it goes too far and results physical injury. The crime depends on the amount of injury caused:
- minor injury — a misdemeanor crime with up to 93 days in jail and a $1,000 fine
- more serious injury – a felony with up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine
- death — a felony with up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
Of course, if the hazing violates other criminal laws, consequently the hazers also become subject to those charges. We’ve seen hazing involving sexual assault, kidnapping, assault, etc. These cases can become newsworthy if they involve local schools.
A Catholic High School?
A recent case in Warren, MI, illustrates how hazing cases can become very public. At a prominent Catholic high school, numerous football-team members have been charged with crimes after a hazing went too far. The victim was held down by teammates. Though the teammates allegedly prodded him in the buttocks with a broom and sexually taunted him, no penetration occurred. Even if something occurs at school, state and federal law applies to the conduct.
What Can We Do?
If you or someone you love has been involved in a hazing, it is important to protect your rights. If you are alleged to have committed hazing, assert your right to remain silent and contact us at (248) 470-4300. Do not speak to school officials without an attorney – it’s the same as speaking to the police. What you say can be used against you. Peer pressure in these cases can be difficult to bear. It is important that you get proper advice and representation to help prevent more severe consequences. At George Law we have years of combined experience successfully representing defendants in criminal cases. We also offer a FREE consultation with respect to potential or active criminal case. Feel free to call us at (248) 470-4300, contact us online, or come visit us in downtown Royal Oak. And we can also come to you.