Hazing has a lot of different meanings, but for most people, it brings to mind an act of initiation to get into a club, fraternity or other organization. Under California law, the layman’s term “hazing” is often legal. However, if you violate the state’s definition of the term, you can be charged with a crime. If you have been charged with hazing in San Diego, please call a lawyer immediately.
Illegal hazing in California involves any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or student body that is likely to cause serious bodily injury to a former, current or prospective student of any educational institution in the state. The organization does not have to be officially recognized by the educational institution, but it must be associated with one by the membership of current of former students. If the event is part of a formal athletic event or school-sanctioned activity, it is not hazing. There are a lot of distinctions there, which is precisely why it is critical you have the right hazing lawyer on your side.
If the crime you have been accused of does not meet all of the distinct qualifications of California’s hazing law, you cannot be charged with hazing. That means that if the ritual was not part of an initiation or pre-initiation event, no hazing occurred. If the person went through the ritual, but your Vista hazing lawyer can prove that the organization is not remotely associated with any school or educational institution, you cannot be charged with hazing. Similarly, if a student body event ended in serious bodily injury or death due to an unforeseen accident -if, for example, a student got hit by a car while crossing the street as part of a ritual, it is not the fault of the organizers of the event. If the ritual was likely to result in harm to someone unassociated with any educational organization, you may be charged with other crimes if someone was hurt -but you cannot be charged with hazing.
If hazing results in serious bodily injury or death, felony charges resulting in up to three years in prison could be filed. Even lesser injuries can result in a misdemeanor filing carrying a sentence of up to one year in jail. That’s why it is critical you fight these charges properly.
Because these laws are very complex. If you have any questions about the hazing laws in California, please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with San Diego hazing attorney Peter M. Liss.