HIB – N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7

According to New Jersey legislation, all school districts in the state must develop, adopt, and implement policies that not only prohibit harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB) on school grounds but also outline how schools must respond when a student is accused of committing such behaviors. Students who are accused of a HIB violation can be punished by both their school and the state of New Jersey.

Whether your child is accused of a HIB violation by their school district or the state, it is crucial you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Lento Law Firm knows how stressful this experience can be and will leverage its abilities to create a solid defense on your child's behalf. Anyone accused of a HIB violation deserves a strong defense. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online.

How New Jersey Law Defines HIB

New Jersey has defined a HIB violation as:

  • Any physical, electronic, written, or verbal communication, action, or gesture that is motivated by another person's supposed or actual trait;
  • Which occurs on the way to school, at a school-sponsored event, or on school grounds; and
  • Is done knowing that it will physically or emotionally injure the victim or their property or put them in a reasonable fear of being physically or emotionally injured or having their property damaged or
  • Any kind of conduct that insults or demeans another person and prevents the school from operating properly.

The Importance of “Intent” in Any HIB Case

It is clear that HIB violations require intention. Without being able to prove “intent,” the prosecution and the school cannot impose a punishment on the accused student. As such, it is the defense's responsibility to create a strategy that pokes holes in the prosecution and school's arguments.

To ensure the student is properly defended, Lento Law Firm will review the accusations and determine how to prove there was no intent involved in the alleged incident.

Potential Defenses Against HIB Charges

The school and prosecution must prove that the student had the intention to harm the other person when they behaved the way they did. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will draft a defense that addresses not only those arguments but also other elements of the law. For example, they may try to show:

  • That the student's supposed behavior did not disrupt the school's ability to operate properly.
  • That the student's alleged communications, gestures, or actions were not motivated by one or more of the other person's actual or perceived traits.

For instance, if your child is accused of harassing another student while on the bus to school, the Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will build a defense that shows your child did not intend to harm the other student, the actions they are accused of did not seriously impact the school's ability to operate, and the supposed incident was not motivated by an actual or alleged trait of the other student.

Other Crimes that May Be Related to HIB Violations

In New Jersey, HIB violations are not exactly crimes within the criminal justice system, but there are other crimes a student may be accused of that are closely related to them, including:

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

Possible Punishments for a HIB Violation

In the school disciplinary setting, HIB violations can be punished in a number of ways. After a full hearing on the issue, the school district can decide what punishments to place on the student. For most elementary, middle, high school, and even college students, HIB violations require the student to lose their privileges in some way. Typically, these violation determinations result in having the student suspended or expelled. Suspension and expulsions are placed on a student's final transcript. So, if they try to attend another school, they will have to disclose the incident and punishment, which can make it hard to gain admission.

Moreover, when a student is accused of a crime related to HIB violations, such as those described above, they can face serious criminal penalties and fines. For instance, in New Jersey, if an individual is found guilty of stalking, they can be punished with between six to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines for a fourth-degree first offense. Then, if the student is found guilty of stalking the same individual a second time or more, it is considered a third-degree offense, which results in three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

The worst part about these accusations is the consequences that can follow students around forever. In addition to carrying around a prison sentence that could prevent a student from getting into college or graduate school, having an additional suspension or expulsion noted on their transcripts can prevent the student from increasing their earning potential over the years, getting the jobs they have always dreamed about, or living the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Furthermore, these types of cases can impact future litigation or disciplinary hearings.

Clearly, disciplinary actions and criminal convictions can significantly negatively impact your child's emotional, physical, and mental health. However, working with a skilled attorney is the best way to overcome these adversities before they start. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team understands how overwhelming and stressful these proceedings can be and leverages their experience to ensure your child is not being subjected to a harsh and frustrating future.

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7 HIB Disciplinary Procedures

According to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7, students accused of HIB violations must be adjudicated according to the policies outlined by the school district. While the specifics of the policy will change from district to district, the legislation maintains that they all need to include the following pieces:

  • A statement that forbids harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student.
  • The definition of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
  • A statement that bullying is unwelcome, hostile behavior that can involve a real or perceived power imbalance.
  • A description of the type of behavior expected from each of the school's students.
  • Appropriate remedial action for a student who defies this policy and commits a HIB violation.
  • How the school district will address accusations of HIB violations.
  • A procedure for reporting incidents of alleged HIB violations.
  • Investigation and determination procedures.
  • The possible punishments for a student found responsible for committing a HIB violation.

This section also requires school districts to review their policies and keep them current.

How Lento Law Firm Can Help

When students are accused of incidents involving harassment, intimidation, or bullying, it can be overwhelming for the entire family. Not only do you have to juggle your normal responsibilities, but now you must add in the stress of researching defenses, gathering evidence, and preparing witnesses. This is why the help of a skilled attorney is so important. They can step in when things seem overwhelming, shoulder the burden, and ensure your child has a solid defense to protect them.

HIB violations, in particular, are extremely nuanced, and given the fact that your child could be defending themselves both in a disciplinary hearing or a criminal courtroom, it is even more important to hire an experienced attorney who can participate in both venues. The benefit is that your child will have a cohesive defense that is also tailored to the specific adjudicator, ensuring they receive the best possible outcome for their case.

It is important your child gets the best possible outcome because HIB violations can have disastrous consequences. For instance, a HIB violation and a subsequent suspension or expulsion from school will be noted on their final transcripts. When your child goes to apply to college or graduate school, the admissions committee will request more information about the punishment and the incident that gave rise to it. Having to explain a HIB violation could impact your child's chances of getting admitted to the school of their choice.

Students who are kept out of college or graduate school because of disciplinary actions or criminal convictions will find it hard to achieve their career and employment goals. Moreover, if they are subjected to a jail or prison sentence for their behavior, their reputation could be marred forever, diminishing their earning potential and influencing future legal matters.

For years, Lento Law Firm has years helped students in New Jersey navigate school disciplinary issues. They are skilled advocates who can review any allegation and determine the best course of action to protect your child's future. More specifically, the Lento Law Firm Team will:

  • Craft together a solid defense strategy for both the school disciplinary hearing and the criminal court hearing.
  • Collect relevant evidence and witness testimony.
  • Fill out any necessary legal documentation and file claims on your child's behalf.
  • Work with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to ensure your child's case is being handled appropriately.

For more information on how the Lento Law Firm 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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