For decades, hazing has been a huge issue throughout various institutions in the United States. It has come to the attention of Texas lawmakers that there needs to be consequences for such inhumane acts on fellow peers.
Studies show that more than half of college students involved in clubs, teams, fraternities, sororities, and other organizations experience some form of hazing. Furthermore, 47 percent of students have experienced hazing before entering their respective universities.
Definition of Hazing
According to the Texas Education Code, hazing refers to “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are students at an education institution.”
The following are the specific actions considered as hazing:
- Any form of physical brutality, such as beating, branding, or whipping.
- Any activity which threatens the body of permanent damage, such as sleep deprivation, confinement to a small area, exposure to extreme and inclement weather.
- Forced consumption of any substance that would result in unreasonable harm, such as alcohol, drugs, or food.
- Any act which results in unreasonable emotional or mental distress.
Texas Penalties for Hazing
If an individual is in any way participating in, encouraging or is even knowledgeable of harmful hazing, they are subject to a personal hazing charge. Failing to report and any other offense that does not cause serious bodily injury is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum county jail sentence of 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000.
Any hazing offense that causes serious bodily injury to another is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum county jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000. Any hazing offense that causes the death of another is a state jail felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of up to $1,000.
On the other hand, if the entire organization, or any section including pledges, members, or alumni, is found to blame for the harm of another student in light of hazing, the charges are considered misdemeanors. Additionally, the organization as a whole will be charged between $5,000 and $10,000. If those actions cause a personal injury, extreme damages or irreplaceable loss, it is punishable by a fine ranging from $5,000 or double the amount lost.
If you were arrested for or charged with a personal or organizational hazing offense in TX, contact our Plano criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Scott Edgett and request a free consultation today.