HIB – N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.3

In New Jersey, lawmakers determined that school districts must be in charge of creating, adopting, and implementing policies and procedures to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB). They also specified that the policies and procedures must describe how schools should respond when they learn of a HIB violation. Furthermore, HIB violations can be adjudicated by both the student's school and state law enforcement when necessary.

That being said, whether your child is accused of an HIB violation by their school or the state does not matter. They still need a strong defense, which only an experienced attorney can provide. Lento Law Firm understands what is really at stake when a student is accused of a HIB violation by both their school and law enforcement. As such, they will tailor the student's defense to ensure the best possible outcome for their case. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online today for help.

How New Jersey Law Defines HIB

HIB violations are defined as:

  • Any physical, written, verbal, or electronic communication, gesture, or action that is motivated by a person's perceived or actual traits;
  • That happens on the way to school, on school property, or at a school-sponsored event or activity, and
  • It is committed knowing that it causes the victim physical or emotional harm, damages their property, or puts them in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm or damage to their property.
  • Or an action that insults or demeans a person in such a way that the school cannot continue to operate properly.

If the student's actions do not fall into these elements, the student cannot be found responsible for a HIB violation by either the school or the state.

The Importance of “Intent” in Any HIB Case

For any action to rise to the level of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, it must involve intent. That is, the student must have intended for the other person to be harmed, physically or emotionally, by their actions, be put in fear of being physically or emotionally harmed by their actions, or intended for their property to be damaged or for the person to fear their property would be damaged. Without this requisite intent, the student cannot be found responsible for harassment, intimidation, or bullying.

In criminal cases, it will be on the prosecution to prove that the student intended to harm the victim in some way. As such, it will be the defense's main priority to poke holes in whatever theory the prosecution puts forward. To ensure your child is not adjudicated for something they did not do – because they did not intend harm – Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will review the facts of the case and determine how best to build their defense.

Potential Defenses Against HIB Charges

Sometimes, a defense attorney will decide to create several defense strategies to employ during a criminal trial and a school disciplinary hearing. The purpose is to ensure that no matter what the prosecution or school throws out about your child, none of it lands. There is always a reason for a certain behavior or a reason why it could not have occurred.

For example, if your student gets a video of another student in a bathing suit and shares it with the class, and the classmates use it to make fun of the student's body, your child could be accused of cyberbullying. The first thing the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team would do in this situation is to build a defense that shows your child had no intention of harming the victim when they sent the video to their classmates. They will also present evidence and witness testimony that shows your child did not plan for the other children to cyberbully the victim and that they made no mention of a perceived or real trait of the victim when they sent the video. Moreover, if the action of sending the video occurred off campus, not on the way to or from school, and not at a school-sponsored event, Lento Law Firm will provide evidence to show the action does not involve the school in any way and thus should not be adjudicated by them.

This is why it is so important to hire a competent and skilled attorney who can leverage their in-court experience with their student defense knowledge to help your child succeed. Do not try to navigate these proceedings alone.

Other Crimes that May Be Related to HIB Violations

Under New Jersey law, HIB violations are specific to schools, but there are plenty of crimes that are closely related to HIB violations that can be adjudicated by criminal courts, including:

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

Possible Punishments for a HIB Violation

Students who are accused of a HIB violation will be brought before their school's disciplinary board and asked to present an argument for their innocence. Typically, the school will also have someone representing their interests to present an argument as to why the student did commit a HIB violation. After both sides have been heard, the disciplinary hearing officer will determine, based on the arguments presented, whether the student is responsible for the supposed violations. If they believe they are, they can impose all sorts of punishments on the student. Usually, though, these punishments end up being in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and expulsions.

When elementary, middle school, high school, and even college students are suspended or expelled, the punishment is noted on their transcripts. If they try to attend another school down the line, the administrators will review their transcripts, recognize those notations, and start questioning the student on the incident. Unfortunately, these kinds of punishments can make it hard to gain admission to the new school.

Further, when students in any grade, or year in college, are accused of a crime related to HIB, they can be subjected to much harsher penalties. For instance, in New Jersey, someone who is found guilty of stalking for the first time would be sentenced to anywhere between six and 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. But if they have been found guilty of stalking the same victim more than once, they would be facing three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Wherever your child is disciplined, whether by the school district or the state, it can seriously infringe upon their lives. Not only does it make it hard to keep up with the required coursework and progression schedule, but it can also make it hard to get into college or graduate school, forcing students to reorganize their hopes, dreams, and lives.

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.3 Reporting HIB

According to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-5.3, school districts must report any kind of violence, vandalism, and alcohol or drug abuse of any student to the principal. The statute also specifies that if an employee observes or has direct knowledge of an act of violence, including a HIB violation, they must report it to the principal.

If the school employee purposely files a false report, they shall be punished. It is incredibly important to keep your child's school accountable. When your child is accused of a HIB violation, and the school is determined to punish the student without first having a disciplinary hearing, you have every right to confront them. Lento Law Firm can help.

How Lento Law Firm Can Help

If your child is accused of harassing, intimidating, or bullying, they might feel completely overwhelmed and isolated. It is crucial to work with a skilled attorney from the moment your child is accused of a HIB violation to ensure their reputation is not damaged.

Additionally, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is keenly aware of the frustrations the consequences of these accusations can cause for children and parents alike. As such, they aim to take that burden from your shoulders by being available every step of the way. They will:

  • Review your child's case and the circumstances surrounding it.
  • Create a robust defense argument for all proceedings – both the court proceeding and the school disciplinary hearing.
  • Search for and collect relevant evidence and witness testimony to be presented during both proceedings.
  • Fill out any necessary legal documentation and file it on your family's – and your child's – behalf.
  • Work with the opposing side to ensure the case is handled properly, your child's due process rights are upheld, and the disciplinary hearing and the criminal proceeding are both conducted in good faith.

Whether your child is accused of a HIB violation or a HIB-related crime, it can upend their lives, prevent them from getting into college, and greatly diminish their earning capacity and self-esteem. The best way to prevent this possible future from coming to fruition is to reach out to Lento Law Firm today. To learn more about our team, 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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