HIB – N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2

New Jersey legislators require school districts to develop and implement policies and procedures that prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) on school grounds. These policies and procedures must also describe how schools need to respond when a student is accused of a HIB violation. Additionally, though HIB violations are not crimes, they can be adjudicated by both the student's school and state law enforcement.

But it doesn't matter if your child is accused of a HIB violation by their school district or the state. Either way, they need a strong defense. Lento Law Firm has spent years helping students across the country navigate disciplinary issues. They will be able to combine their experience and their vast criminal defense experience to provide your child with the most comprehensive defense. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online.

How New Jersey Law Defines HIB

Under New Jersey law, a HIB violation is defined as:

  • Any kind of electronic, physical, written, or verbal action, gesture, or communication that is motivated by another person's perceived or actual trait;
  • Which happens on the way to school, on school grounds, or at a school-sponsored event; and
  • Is committed or performed knowing that it will physically or emotionally harm the victim or their property or put them in reasonable fear of being physically or emotionally harmed or having their property damaged or
  • Any behavior or action that insults or demeans another person and stops the school from being able to operate appropriately.

The Importance of "Intent" in Any HIB Case

With HIB violations, the main element is always intent. If the prosecution – or the school district – cannot show that the defendant had the required "intent," then the student cannot be found responsible for a HIB violation. Because of this, the defense's main priority is to show why the defendant does not have the required intent.

Lento Law Firm will review your child's case the accusation being made, and figure out how best to show that your child had no intention of committing a HIB violation.

Potential Defenses Against HIB Charges

As we explained above, the burden of proof is on the school or the prosecution. So, the school and prosecution must prove that the student had the intention to injure the supposed victim when they acted the way they did. In addition, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will look for other defenses that might hold water in your child's particular case. For instance, they might try to show that the:

  • Child's behavior did not disrupt the school environment so much that the school was unable to learn properly.
  • Child's alleged interactions with the other student or person, whether in communication, gestures, or actions, were not motivated by a trait they believed the alleged victim to have.

That being said if your child is accused of cyberbullying another student while at home after sending a photo of the alleged victim to another classmate, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will likely build two defense arguments. The first is that your child had no intention of bullying the alleged victim when they sent the photo, and the second is that it does not involve the school because it supposedly happened off-campus.

It is important to work with a skilled attorney during both the school administrative and the criminal proceedings to ensure your child's due process rights are respected and upheld. Often, parents will not be notified of their child's rights and end up meeting with the school or prosecution without representation, leaving their children and themselves open for severe harm.

Other Crimes that May Be Related to HIB Violations

As we explained above, HIB violations are expressly prohibited in school districts around New Jersey, but they are not specifically outlawed criminally within the state. However, there are other crimes that are closely related to HIB violations, which a student can be criminally charged with, including:

  • Cyber-harassment
  • Cyber-stalking
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Bullying
  • Assault
  • Stalking

Possible Punishments for a HIB Violation

At school, HIB violations can be punished in several ways, depending on the severity of the incident and the facts surrounding it. Once a hearing is scheduled and both sides are fully heard, the school district will decide what punishments to impose on the student. Most of the time, students will be given a punishment that forces them to lose some of their coveted privileges. For instance, if a student is found intimidating another student on school grounds based on the alleged victim's perceived or real trait, the school can suspend or expel the student. These types of punishments are recorded on the student's final transcript. So, when they attempt to apply to another school, they will have to explain why they were suspended or expelled. Both of which can make it hard to get into the new school.

On the other hand, if a student is accused of a crime related to HIB violations, such as assault or stalking, they can face serious criminal punishments, including jail or prison sentences and hefty fines. For instance, in New Jersey, fourth-degree, first-offense stalking crimes require between six and 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, if the student is found guilty of stalking the same person a second time or more, it is considered a third-degree, second offense, resulting in three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Unfortunately, criminal accusations can cause serious consequences for the student even after graduation. Not only would a prison sentence prohibit a student from leaving town to go to an out-of-state college, but it would also reflect poorly on their resume when they try to apply for a job. Receiving a criminal conviction makes matters even worse and should be avoided at all costs.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team knows how confusing and overwhelming these charges can be for your child, yourself, and the whole family, especially if the school and law enforcement are conducting separate investigations and hearings. Yet it is very important to keep staying the course and do everything in your power to help your child overcome this unfortunate situation. Lento Law Firm has spent the majority of its career leveraging its legal experience to hold students who are being unfairly punished by their school and state.

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2 HIB Violence Awareness

Under N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.2, all school districts need to create and observe "School Violence Awareness Week." Each October, the school district must organize activities that are meant to bring awareness to school violence and help prevent it from exploding within the school.

In addition, school boards are required to create a pamphlet on how parents can limit their child's exposure to violence. This pamphlet must be disseminated during School Violence Awareness Week.

How the Lento Law Firm Can Help

Students who are accused of harassment, intimidation, or bullying can feel overwhelmed, nervous, and frustrated, especially when they have been falsely accused. Not only do they have to contend with what the school says about them, but also how their classmates and friends feel. At Lento Law Firm, our compassionate and experienced attorneys will review your child's case and create a strategic defense that guarantees the best possible outcome for their case.

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team knows how nuanced and complicated HIB violations can be and will work diligently to ensure your child is prepared to defend themselves, both in the courtroom and the school administration's office. More importantly, our attorneys will be by your family's side from the first meeting to the last, ensuring your child is being advocated for all along the way. It is our goal to help you feel supported so you can be there for your child and family.

HIB violation accusations will negatively impact your child's life, both in school and outside of it. When they graduate from college, their transcripts may be required for certain types of employment. If the HR director sees the notation of suspension or expulsion, they will ask the applicant to explain what happened. Depending on the circumstances, this could prevent the student from getting the job.

Unfortunately, many employers, schools, and friends will not give individuals accused of a HIB violation a chance to explain themselves. The best way to protect yourself or your child is to hire a competent criminal attorney who will:

  • Strategize a solid defense argument for both the school disciplinary hearing and a criminal court proceeding.
  • Gather any relevant evidence and witness testimony.
  • Complete the necessary legal documentation and file claims on your child's behalf.
  • Collaborate with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to ensure the case is being handled properly.

To learn more about how the Lento Law Firm Criminal Law Team can help, call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.

​​​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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