Friday, August 15, 2014

Is Hazing a Crime?

As high school and college students head back to campus, many will seek to join clubs, sports teams, fraternities, and sororities. Unfortunately, the start of a new year inevitably brings reports of hazing at schools across the country. 

While some people think of hazing as a harmless prank or long-held tradition, it is actually a criminal offense in the state of Nevada.

The Legal Definition of Hazing

NRS 200.605 defines hazing as any activity in which someone recklessly or intentionally endangers another person’s physical health as part of initiation into a student organization, athletic team, or academic association at a high school, college, or university within the state of Nevada.

The law states that hazing can include all forms of brutal treatment or physical brutality, including:
  • Beating
  • Branding
  • Whipping
  • Forced exercise
  • Exposure to the elements
  • Forced consumption of liquor, drugs, food, or other substances
Many people argue that the alleged victims consent to this treatment; they are not forced to do it. According to Nevada law, however, a victim is considered to have been forced when being affiliated or initiated into the organization, team, or association is conditional upon whether they participate in the activity.

Hazing Penalties

The charges and possible penalties for hazing in Nevada are contingent on whether the victim sustained substantial injury as a result of the hazing.

Hazing Without Substantial Injury
If the victim was not seriously harmed, the hazing offense will be charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by:
  • Fines up to $1,000; and/or
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 6 months.

Hazing With Substantial Injury
If the victim sustained serious injury in the hazing, the offense will be charged as a gross misdemeanor, punishable by:
  • Fines up to $2,000; and/or
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 1 year.

Hazing Causing Death
If hazing causes the death of a victim, the perpetrator can be charged with involuntary manslaughter or second degree murder, which are both felony offenses in Nevada. Additionally, the victim’s family could file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

Hazing is a serious criminal offense that requires the representation of an experienced defense firm. If you or your loved one is accused of hazing, don’t wait to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Get in touch with the team at De Castroverde Law Group in Las Vegas to learn about your defense options.