Hazing in Florida

From fraternities and sororities to sports teams and other social clubs, hazing is a traditional part of becoming a member of a college organization. However, since hazing involves extreme physical or mental harassment, not only do such incidents lead to discipline by the university, but it may also result in criminal charges in Florida.

The following are the three main types of hazing:

  1. Subtle hazing – This type of hazing is often considered as “harmless” or “meaningless,” but typically involves a breach of mutual respect that places new members on the receiving end of embarrassment, ridicule, and/or humiliation by the hands of members of a group. Common examples of subtle hazing include name-calling, social isolation, assigned duties, and depriving new members of privileges given to other members.
  2. Harassment hazing – This type of hazing can place a new member under great stress and confusion. Common examples of harassment hazing include performing a personal service to other members (e.g. cleaning, cooking, carrying books, etc.), requesting new members to wear humiliating clothes, depriving new members of sleep, and verbally abusing new members.
  3. Violent hazing – This type of hazing can lead to physical, psychological, or emotional damage to new members. Common examples of violent hazing include forced alcohol or drug consumption, beating, branding, paddling, water intoxication, public nudity, and kidnapping.

In June 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed “Andrew’s Law,” named after a Florida State University (FSU) student who passed away in November 2017 due to hazing. The new law makes hazing that results in a serious injury or death a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum five-year prison sentence and/or a fine no more than $5,000.

Additionally, Andrew’s Law makes individuals responsible for organizing a hazing event—but are not present at the event—criminally liable in the event of a serious injury or death caused by hazing. However, the first person who calls 911 or anyone who administers aid to a victim while waiting for emergency medical services will avoid criminal prosecution.

If you are facing hazing accusations in Miami, contact Hager & Schwartz, P.A. today at (305) 330-1360 for a free consultation. We are committed to protecting your rights, reputation, and future from serious criminal penalties.

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