Crimes for Hazing in Florida

On January 31, 2019, at the Board of Governors (BOG) meeting, a system-wide regulation was proposed prohibiting 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 individuals and organizations.

Hazing also comes with criminal penalties. 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;
    • Beating;
    • Branding;
    • Whipping; or
    • 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; or
    • 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

Attorneys for Hazing Crimes in Tampa, FL

If you were accused of hazing by your college or university or arrested for the criminal offense of felony hazing under section 1006.63(2) or misdemeanor hazing under section 1006.63(3), 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.

Call 813-250-0500.

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.

When hazing is charged as a third-degree felony, the crime 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 inflicting that injury or death.

When hazing is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, the crime 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, 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 the death or injury of the person was not done as a condition of membership to an organization.

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.

Who Can Be Charged with Hazing?

An essential issue in these cases is whether sufficient evidence exists to show that the person accused had any responsibilities for or knowledge of the hazing because of their position within the fraternity or student organization.

In some cases, the prosecution might want to proceed under a principal theory.

For example, State v. Petagine, 290 So. 3d 991, 994 (Fla. 1st DCA 2020), the court found the evidence to be sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss where the defendant was the leader of the executive council of a fraternity, directed all fraternity activities, and “had the organizational and actual authority to stop all acts of the hazing conducted by all members of the [f]raternity.”

Immunity from Prosecution for Hazing

Section 1006.63(11) & (12) are named Andrew’s Law. These subsections provide immunity to a person:

  • who summons immediate medical assistance to a victim of criminal hazing; or
  • who renders aid to a victim of criminal hazing.

This article was last updated on Monday, December 19, 2022.