Some people may think that hazing is a rite of passage to join a fraternal organization or club. In New York, hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor for which the maximum penalty is 1 year in jail and a $1000.00 fine. Hazing in the second degree is less serious, as it is a violation.
If you or someone you know has been accused of hazing call our New York criminal defense lawyers today. Hazing charges can ruin a college career unless you have tough and aggressive lawyers that will fight to beat your case. Call us today for a free consultation.
The elements of hazing in the first degree are as follows: 1) during the process of joining an organization a person requires another person to 2) purposefully or with intentional disregard to great risk a) touch someone else or b) require them to do something that creates a heightened risk of physical harm to other people, and 3) actually causes an injury. New York does not consider hazing to be just some lighthearted fun. The criminalization of hazing stemmed from public outcry when deaths resulted from extreme initiation rituals and ceremonies into some college fraternities.
Hazing in the second degree is less serious. Hazing in the second degree does not require that anyone get hurt, it is merely a state of criminal intent and the elevation of unacceptable levels of risk to another person who is trying to join an organization.
Authority from the Appellate Division, Third Department affirms that there is in fact an implied private, civil cause of action for personal injuries caused by hazing. A private cause of action may be maintained from a criminal law where the plaintiffs are in the class of persons designed to be protected by the criminal statute, and permission to bring private claims against those who have violated the law will bolster the legislative of objective and make a private cause of action, and whether or not the implying a private cause of action will frustrate the intent of the already present legal structure. The Appellate Division, Third Department found that the first two prongs of the test were easily and obviously satisfied. First, a plaintiff who is harmed by hazing is plainly within the category of persons the statute is designed to protect. Second, punishing hazing with a private cause of action will act to further deter it. Third, the underlying legal structure is not frustrated by a private cause of action where statutes exist that ban furnishing alcohol to minors. Therefore, the court reasoned, a private cause of action should be permissible against those who have hazed others.
Another New York court has recognized a cause of action in survival for the pain and suffering which flowed from the actions of a fraternity where their rituals were the cause of a pledge’s death. Cases from other states influenced the court’s decision. The court followed the foreign court’s reasoning that the massive peer pressure to fit in among young men had a definite and powerful effect, and that those in charge of fraternity rituals could be held culpable for bullying their peers into a state of inebriation using already established tort concepts.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by hazing, or has been accused of hazing, call our aggressive and knowledgeable New York hazing attorneys today. Our staff of experienced New York criminal defense lawyers and New York personal injury lawyers will present the strongest possible legal arguments to win your case. Call our office today for a free consultation.