On January 31, 2019 at the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting, a system-wide regulation was proposed that would prohibit hazing. Under the proposed regulation, each university board of trustees would be required to establish an anti-hazing policy as part of the university’s student code of conduct or as a separate regulation.
The penalties for violating the anti-hazing regulations might include the imposition of fines to expulsion, depending upon the severity of the violation for both individuals and organizations.
Attorneys for Hazing Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you were accused of hazing by your college or university or if you were arrested for the criminal offense of hazing under Section 1006.63(1), then contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL.
As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we fight criminal charges in the county and circuit courts throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Our attorneys are also experienced in representing college students during disciplinary hearings for violations of the student code of conduct.
Definition of Hazing under Section 1006.63(1)
The crime of “hazing” is defined in Florida Statute Section 1006.63(1), F.S., as 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 or admission into or affiliation with, any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution, including a college or university.
Under Section 1006.63, the crime of “hazing” includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Any brutality of a physical nature including:
- Forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance
- Exposure to the elements
- Any other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student;
- Any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as:
- Sleep deprivation
- Forced exclusion from social contact
- Forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment
- Forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student
- Pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law
Criminal Penalties for Hazing in Florida
The crime of hazing can be charged as either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony, depending upon the degree of injury inflicted upon the victim.
The third-degree felony offense occurs when a person intentionally or recklessly commits any act of hazing upon another person who is a member of or an applicant to any type of student organization, and the hazing results in serious bodily injury or death of the victim. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S.
Hazing is a first-degree misdemeanor if the act, committed under the same circumstances as the felony, creates a substantial risk of physical injury or death of the victim rather than actually inflicting that injury or death. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S.
Defenses to Hazing Crimes in Florida
The definition of hazing under Florida Statute Section 1006.63 does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.
Under Section 1006.63(5), it is not a defense to the crime of hazing that:
- The consent of the victim had been obtained;
- The conduct or activity that resulted in the death or injury of a person was not part of an official organizational event or was not otherwise sanctioned or approved by the organization; or
- The conduct or activity that resulted in death or injury of the person was not done as a condition of membership to an organization.6
Public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions whose students receive state student financial assistance must adopt a written anti-hazing policy and, under such policy, must adopt rules prohibiting students or other persons associated with any student organization from engaging in hazing.
This article was last updated on Thursday, June 27, 2019.