HIB – N.J.A.C. 6A:3

Under New Jersey law, certain behaviors can be regulated by both the local school and criminal court. As such, the legislation has created rules and procedures that schools and districts must follow when reviewing controversies and disputes that involve incidents of harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB).  

Children who are found responsible for committing a HIB offense can be punished by the school and the state of New Jersey. This means that if your child is accused of a HIB violation, they can be forced to defend themselves in front of the school's administration and in a criminal court. Both of these venues carry significant consequences that will seriously impact the student's life and future.  

To ensure your child is not found responsible without receiving a fair trial and due process, it is important to reach out to a competent criminal defense attorney. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has spent years helping students in New Jersey navigate school disciplinary hearings and criminal proceedings. They will work diligently to create a strategic defense on your child's behalf that guarantees the best possible outcome for their case. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online.  

How New Jersey Law Defines HIB 

According to the New Jersey legislature, a HIB violation is defined as:  

  • Any written, verbal, electronic, or physical communication, gesture, or action, that is driven by a supposed or real trait of the victim; 
  • That happens on the way to school, at school, or at a school-sponsored activity; and  
  • Is committed knowing that it will emotionally or physically harm the victim or their property, or put them in a reasonable fear of being physically or emotionally harmed or having their property damaged; or  
  • A behavior that insults or demeans another person while also significantly disrupting the school's ability to operate in an orderly fashion.  

The Importance of “Intent” in Any HIB Case  

Based on the definitions from the legislation, it is clear that a key component to the definition of a HIB violation is intent. It is up to the school and the prosecution to show that the student's alleged actions or behavior were done with intention. As such, the defense will focus on showing that there were other motivators for the accused student's behavior – or that they did not commit the alleged behavior altogether.  

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will review the HIB violation accusations and determine how best to proceed.  

Potential Defenses Against Hazing Charges 

As explained above, the main responsibility of the prosecution – or the school – is to prove that the accused student had the requisite intent to cause harm to the other individual when they behaved in the way alleged. Lento Law Firm's goal, then, is to poke holes in the other side's argument. Other defenses they may employ include: 

  • Showing the accused student's behaviors or actions were not motivated by a real or perceived trait of the victim.  
  • Showing that the alleged incident did not happen on school property, at a school-sponsored event, to or from school, or that it did not affect the school's ability to operate properly in any way.  

For example, if your student is accused of bullying another student at an off-campus party, their defense will show that not only did the party not occur in a setting that the school had control over, but also that the incident did not affect the school in any way and was not motivated by one of the alleged victim's real or perceived traits.  

The experienced attorneys at Lento Law Firm will review the facts of the case and create a defense that responds to each fact, ensuring your student is protected from anything the other side decides to try. 

Other Crimes that May Be Related to HIB Violations 

If your child is charged with a HIB violation in New Jersey, they may also be charged with another crime, including:  

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

Possible Punishments for a HIB Violation 

Despite the fact that HIB violations are not specifically outlined as under the control of criminal courts, there are a number of ways that a HIB violation may be subjected to criminal punishment and school disciplinary action. For example, if a student is accused of bullying another student based on their race, and they get into a physical altercation, the student can be criminally charged with assault. If they are found guilty, their punishments can range from a $1,000 fine and six months in jail to a $150,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. It just depends on the facts of the case.  

Additionally, students can be disciplined by their school for allegations of HIB violations, which may include anything from a loss of privileges to suspension and expulsion. Further, suspended students in elementary, middle, or high school can be removed from their regular classrooms and placed in alternative education settings. Alternative education settings are notorious for impacting the student's ability to learn, get their work done, and keep up with their classmates when they are placed back into the regular classroom. When students feel left out or left behind like this, they tend to act out and become “repeat offenders.”   

Any kind of disciplinary action can significantly impede your child's mental, emotional, and, sometimes, physical health. If you add a criminal conviction onto that plate, these students can face considerable hardships. This is why it is so important to work with a skilled and determined attorney during both the school disciplinary proceedings and the ones taking place in the criminal courtroom.  

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team is keenly aware of how difficult these accusations can make your child's life. They will work tirelessly to ensure your child is protected from unnecessary and overly harsh consequences.  

N.J.A.C. 6A:3 HIB Disciplinary Procedures  

Under N.J.A.C. 6A:3, students who are accused of a HIB violation will be required to follow a certain series of steps to defend themselves. If the initial defense does not go their way, this series of regulations outlines how students can file appeals to the Commissioner of Education of New Jersey, request emergent relief or a stay order against the district board of education, how the appeal hearing will be conducted, and ways to get the student's name cleared when they are found not responsible.  

For example, a petition can file a petition of appeal using the template in section 6A:3-1.4. This petition must include the name, address, telephone number, and email address of each petitioner and each party respondent, a statement of the specific allegations and facts that support the allegations, and what the petitioner wants.  

A petition for appeal must be filed within 90 days of receiving a notice of the district board of education's decision or a notice of a final order or ruling. Once the petition is filed, the respondent gets 20 days to review and respond to it. If the respondent does not answer the petition within that window, it will be assumed admitted by the Commissioner.  

Essentially, the responding party loses their right to argue against the accusations made by the petitioner. So, whether your child is the responding party or the petitioning party, it is incredibly important to stay on top of these policy requirements and deadlines to ensure you are not admitting guilt without intending to. 

This section also describes how schools can file violations against teachers and other employees, as well as how to appeal decisions made by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.  

How Lento Law Firm Can Help  

Realizing that your child has been accused of a harassment, intimidation, or bullying violation can be incredibly stressful, especially if you don't know who to turn to for help. That being said, it is crucial to reach out to an attorney as soon as you can.  

HIB violation allegations can have long-lasting and serious ramifications for any student's life. Not only can they impact a student's educational pursuits, including their ability to get into the college or graduate school of their dreams, but they can also force them to endure a jail or prison sentence, paying substantial fines and other reputational harms. All of these consequences can detrimentally impede the student's future employment potential, diminish their earning capacity, and influence other legal matters later on.   

Lento Law Firm has years of experience defending New Jersey students from HIB violation accusations. They are skilled at navigating the nuances associated with such cases, both in criminal cases and school disciplinary hearings, ensuring your child is protected from every angle. 

The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense Team will: 

  • Develop a comprehensive defense strategy on behalf of your child.  
  • Gather pertinent evidence, including witness testimony. 
  • Promptly complete all necessary legal documentation and initiate claims on your child's behalf.  
  • Collaborate with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to secure the most favorable outcome for your child's case.  

Moreover, if your child faces hazing allegations from the school and is summoned to a disciplinary hearing, the Lento Law Firm Team can aid in preparing for such proceedings. 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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