Hazing is a type of ceremony in which many fraternities or sororities will harass, abuse, or humiliate new pledges as a way of initiating them into a group. Hazing can range from something as benign as pranks to something that borders on patterns of abuse or criminal misconduct. Florida is one of the states that enacting a law specifically addressing hazing.
In 2005, the Florida House of Representatives passed the Chad Meredith Act, named after a student who drowned during a hazing incident. After drinking with two officers of a fraternity, Meredith and a group of other students tried to swim across Lake Osceola. With a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.13, Meredith was unable to swim properly, and he drowned 34 feet from shore in 6 feet and 9 inches of water.
According to the state of Florida, hazing includes 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, admission into, or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution.
If you or a group of people are accused of hazing, you could be charged with a 3rd-degree felony if the initiation act results in serious bodily injury or death. This charge could lead to up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if the situation only creates a substantial risk of physical injury or death to another person, you could face a 1st-degree misdemeanor. A misdemeanor could get you up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Actions that could be considered hazing include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Pressuring a student into violating state or federal laws
- Any brutality of a physical nature (for example, whipping, beating, exposure to elements, or forced consumption of food or alcohol)
- Any activity that could subject the student to extreme mental stress (such as sleep deprivation)
- Other forced actions that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of a student
Make sure you give yourself the best chance of avoiding a felony or a misdemeanor conviction by talking to a skilled Daytona Beach criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Buckmaster & Ellzey has more than 40 years of legal experience to offer your case. Let us help you defend your rights and freedom and protect your future.
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