Hazing may start off as good-natured teasing or pranks, but this right-of-passage can be a dangerous practice. For this reason, Virginia state law has made hazing on school, college, and university campuses illegal. Students should be free to join organizations without the threatening and dangerous activities that can occur during initiations.
Hazing, according to William & Mary’s anti-hazing policy, is defined as acts that endanger the mental or physical health of a student, or destroys or removes public or private property for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition of continued membership in an organization or group. These acts can include challenges, pranks, or physical tasks that are required of other students. These acts are considered illegal under Virginia state law, even if the victim of the hazing had consented to the actions.
The Code of Virginia § 18.2-56 states that it is illegal to haze with the intent to cause bodily injury to any student at any school, college, or university. Doing so is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, and is subject to 12 months of jail time and up to $2,500 in fines. Additionally, any person injured as a result of hazing can sue the guilty party or parties for damages in a civil lawsuit. The president or presiding official of any school receiving state funding must expel students guilty of hazing. They must also report the student’s name to the attorney for the Commonwealth which handles the county or city in which the school is located.
Campuses Taking Charge
Many campuses across Virginia are beginning to create and enforce their own campus anti-hazing policies to help combat even minor instances of hazing. William & Mary has been cited as a model of anti-hazing policy, and the school has produced an extensive and detailed anti-hazing policy to protect students. The policy includes a list of forbidden hazing activities, including:
- Road trips or involuntary excursions
- Confinement in a room or compartment
- Compelling students to participate in activities that interfere with their work or studies
- Verbal Harassment
- Burning, branding, or tattooing any part of the body
- Carrying items designed to embarrass the carrier
- Depriving students of sleep
- Compelling exposure to uncomfortable elements
- Compelling the public wearing of clothing that is in poor taste
- Forcing consumption of any substance, including alcohol
- Psychological abuse, such as ridicule, compromising dignity, shaming, or causing emotional strain
These activities are forbidden on campus or off if performed in relation to some aspect of the school, such as membership in an organization, society, fraternity or sorority, or other school groups. The policy also states that an organization found to be engaging in hazing may lose status as an official student group, and the individuals involved may face dismissal from the school.
Protection From Hazing Charges
If you have been accused of hazing, you can be facing serious consequences. The penalties of hazing charges can be costly, and criminal charges cannot be expunged from your record in Virginia. Your record may be used against you in the future, so it is critical to build an aggressive, experienced defense for yourself. The Law Offices of Daniel J Miller can help fight for your rights
Our Virginia Beach criminal defense attorney has over 25 years of experience in criminal court and is familiar with the courts Southeast Virginia. Our team will use our knowledge and experience to develop a personalized, strategic plan for your defense. We never use cookie-cutter solutions, since we know that your rights and freedom are at risk. Learn how we can help today!