Hazing and HIB

New Jersey is dedicated to formulating and implementing regulatory measures that facilitate the prevention, reporting, and remediation of incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB). As such, they have created a legal framework that equips schools and districts with guidelines to develop and follow robust protocols to address HIB incidents effectively. 

When a child is found responsible for committing a HIB offense, they can be punished by their school and their state. If your child is accused of HIB, including hazing, they need a strong defense. Lento Law Firm is keenly aware of the difficulties children can face after being charged with a HIB crime. Thus, they will work tirelessly to ensure the child and family are completely prepared and have a strong defense.  

You do not have to do this alone. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help.  

How New Jersey Law Defines Hazing 

Hazing is categorized under the HIB umbrella. HIB is defined as:  

  • Any gesture, action, or communication, whether written, verbal, electronic, or physical, that is motivated by a perceived or actual trait of the victim; 
  • That occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored activity, or on the school bus; and  
  • Is done knowing that it will physically or emotionally harm the victim, injure their property, or make them reasonably fear being harmed or having their property harmed; or  
  • Conduct themselves in a way that insults or demeans another person that substantially disrupts the school's orderly operation.  

Under New Jersey law, a person is typically guilty of hazing if, in connection with initiating applicants to or members of a student or fraternal organization, they knowingly or recklessly organize, promote, facilitate, or engage in any conduct that puts or may put another person in danger of bodily harm or results in serious bodily injury to another person. The only initiations that are excluded from this definition are reasonable and customary athletic, military, or law enforcement training, competitions, events, or contests.  

If the child is accused of a hazing incident that puts, or may put, the other person in danger of bodily harm, it is considered a disorderly person offense. But if it results in an actual bodily injury, it is a fourth-degree offense. If the hazing incident results in death or serious bodily injury, it is a third-degree offense.  

The Importance of “Intent” in Any Hazing Case  

As you can see above, a key component of the definition of cyberbullying is the specification that the act must be done “knowingly” or “recklessly.” This means that for a defendant to be found guilty of hazing, they must have intended to commit the alleged actions.  

Basically, the prosecution must show that the defendant knew that it was likely the victim could get hurt during the incident they planned, and they did it anyway. To properly defend a child who is accused of hazing, an experienced criminal defense attorney would gather evidence to poke holes in the prosecution's case but also create a defense that showed there was no intention to harm or place the victim in the path of harm or injury.  

When the prosecution cannot prove intent in a hazing case, it will be dismissed. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will review the hazing accusations and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.  

Potential Defenses Against Hazing Charges 

The Lento Law Firm is experienced in helping families navigate a child's hazing accusation. Their goal will be to prove your child did not have the requisite intent to haze the alleged victim. But other possible defenses they may decide to use include: 

  • Proving the actions or behavior did not involve gaining membership to a student organization or fraternity.  
  • The other person gave their permission to participate without any coercion, cause, or other kind of inducement.  
  • There was no reasonable likelihood of bodily injury.  

Students should not be convicted of hazing for incidents outside their control. For example, suppose a student has her biology club over after school and an additional friend who is not part of that club, and they all decide to start underage drinking. In that case, the student should not be accused of hazing when one friend not in the club gets alcohol poisoning. Had the student called everyone from the club over to initiate this new member into the fold, and her membership entry hinged on her participating in the drinking game, the student might have been guilty of hazing. 

Contact Lento Law Firm today to ensure your child is not falsely accused of hazing.  

Possible Punishments for Hazing 

If your student is accused of hazing, they could be facing a number of punishments, including jail time and significant fines. Depending on the child's age at the time of the incident, they could be charged either as an adult or a juvenile. The grading of the offense will rely on the degree of harm the alleged victim experienced.  

For instance, if your child is over 16 and charged as an adult for a disorderly persons offense, their punishment can be up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. But if they are charged with a fourth-degree offense, it could be up to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, and if it was a third-degree offense, it could be up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.  

While your child can be criminally accused of hazing, they can also be accused of hazing by their school. Under New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, schools in New Jersey are supposed to draft and implement policies and procedures for dealing with bullying, intimidation, and harassment, including hazing. If a student is caught hazing, they can be suspended or expelled from school.  

Any kind of disciplinary action by your child's school can significantly impact your child's well-being, but if you tack on a criminal conviction, it can absolutely derail their lives. For example, students who are accused of hazing and expelled for it will have to explain the expulsion on every college application they fill out, which can make it hard to gain admission. To ensure your child is not being punished by both law enforcement and their school, it is crucial you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

Furthermore, if your child is in elementary, middle, or high school and suspended for even one day, it can inhibit their ability to keep up with their classmates academically. Not only do suspended students who are removed from their regular classrooms start to misbehave more regularly, but they begin to fall behind academically. When students feel like they are falling behind their classmates or having a harder time with the assignments, it leads to mental and emotional issues like anxiety and depression. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team understands these issues and will create a defense that ensures your child is not subjected to unnecessarily harsh and far-reaching consequences from the school.   

Other Criminal that May Be Related to Hazing 

If your child is charged with a hazing crime in New Jersey, they could also be charged with one of the following crimes: 

How Lento Law Firm Can Help  

Discovering that your child is facing hazing allegations can be an extremely stressful experience, leaving you unsure of your next steps or where to turn for help. However, it is critical that you contact an attorney immediately after finding out about the accusations against them.  

The implications of hazing charges can be both enduring and severe, potentially obstructing the student's educational aspirations, including gaining admission to their preferred university. Moreover, they could be subjected to lengthy imprisonment, hefty penalties, and damage to their reputation, which could adversely affect future job opportunities, reduce their earning potential, and influence future legal matters involving family law.   

With years of experience defending students across New Jersey from accusations of harassment, intimidation, and bullying, including hazing, Lento Law Firm is adept at navigating the complexities associated with these cases. Their experience is invaluable not only in legal proceedings but also in school disciplinary hearings, providing your child with robust representation.  

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will: 

  • Create a solid defense strategy on your child's behalf.  
  • Collect relevant evidence, including witness testimony. 
  • Timely fill out all legal paperwork and file claims on your child's behalf.  
  • Consult with law enforcement, the prosecution, and judges to get the best possible outcome for your child's case.  

Additionally, if your child is accused of hazing by the school and asked to attend a disciplinary hearing, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team can help prepare them for such proceedings. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online. Lento Law Firm is here to help. 

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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