Accused of Hazing in New York — Either in College or in Criminal Court?

While hazing was once solely an issue confined to disciplinary or honor boards of colleges or universities, today prosecutors in New York are regularly enforcing anti-hazing laws in criminal courts – with devastating, long-term effects on college students.  News headlines today are filled with hazing offenses sometimes even leading to the death of students.  If you or a loved one are being investigated for hazing at NYU, Columbia, Fordham, Cornell or any other college or university in New York, you will need to hire a top New York school discipline attorney who also specializes in criminal defense work in order to avoid being expelled or even convicted and jailed for a crime. 

Hazing Can Be Criminally Charged Too

To begin, colleges all have anti-hazing rules now in order to prevent injuries to their students – and lawsuits – during fraternity and sorority initiation proceedings.  At a minimum, students accused of hazing on campus will be subject to a disciplinary hearing and possible suspension or expulsion.  At worst, students alleged to have hazed others will be arrested and charged with a crime.  In New York, hazing is charged as both a misdemeanor (Hazing in the First Degree, NYPL § 120.16: where the defendant intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct connected to the initiation of another into any organization which creates a substantial risk of injury and thereby causes such injury) and as a non-criminal violation (Hazing in the Second Degree, NYPL § 120.17: same conduct as First Degree Hazing but no injury results).  Of course, additional, more serious charges such as Assault and Reckless Endangerment can be brought along with the Hazing charges, exposing charged college students to years in prison.  In addition, it should be noted that there have been efforts to increase the penalties for Hazing, from the highest charge of a misdemeanor to as high as a D felony.

A Hazing Accusation in College Can Lead to a Criminal Charge 

While the more serious criminal charges will usually relate to significant physical injuries to victims, New York prosecutors just last week charged seven University of Albany sorority members with First Degree Hazing charges for blindfolding sorority pledges, making them eat mud and dousing them in rotten eggs and milk; one pledge was sent to the hospital due to an allergic reaction.  While this misdemeanor charge is not the most serious of criminal charges, the students may very well end up with a criminal record, thereby jeopardizing their futures and possibly subjecting them to expulsion from the university.  Because the stakes are so high, it is imperative that students just being investigated for hazing at college immediately hire an attorney to safeguard their rights: whatever comes out during a disciplinary hearing will very likely form the basis of any criminal charges which follow.  Therefore, investigating and attacking that evidence at this early stage, well before criminal charges are brought, will provide your best chance of preventing or defending against criminal Hazing charges down the road.

Call the Best New York College Or University Hazing Attorney Today

If you or a loved one are accused of hazing on campus, it is imperative to hire the best New York fraternity or sorority hazing attorney you can find.  In addition, as hazing may result in criminal charges, your New York hazing lawyer should have significant criminal defense experience as well.  Call an experienced New York school discipline and hazing attorney at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to discuss your case today.