Hazing – Penal Code 245.6
California Penal Code section 245.6(a) defines hazing as “any method of initiation or preinitiation into a student organization or student body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university, or other educational institution in this state.” Customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events, such as football practice, soccer practice, or homecoming is not considered hazing unless the activity occurs beyond the normal customs and standards of athletic events.
Hazing is considered a wobbler. This means depending on the seriousness of the activity and the degree of injuries, the prosecuting agency makes a determination to either file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the conduct does not result in serious bodily injury, criminal charges will be filed as a misdemeanor. Hiring an experienced attorney with the Khachatourians Law Group during the pre-filing stages may afford the defendant the opportunity in attempting to reject the case or set the matter for an informal hearing with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Any person who personally engages in hazing that results in death or serious bodily injury can be charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor. This will depend on the whether the facts and circumstances warrant a felony filing (i.e. degree of involvement, prior conduct, complaining victims, seriousness of injuries.)
The victim may also file a civil action for injuries or damages against any participant in the hazing, or any organization to which the student is seeking membership whose agents, directors, trustees, managers, or officers authorized, requested, commanded, participated in, or ratified the hazing. The school and the allege perpetrators may also face a civil lawsuit. The prosecutor may also choose to file additional counts of battery, assault, or false imprisonment associated with the act of hazing.
A fraternity or sorority may face a civil lawsuit that may also trigger a criminal filing against the defendant. Campus public safety reports may trigger a criminal charge. The plaintiff’s attorney may file a civil lawsuit against the school, the fraternity, and also leave Does 1-100 to add additional defendants. The school will have its own disciplinary matter. The parents of the student may obtain a civil harassment restraining order, and the district attorney may bring criminal charges against the students. Four cases all arising from a single incident.
If you or your son or daughter has been involved in an incident of hazing at a university, high school, or a private or public school, call Attorney Arthur Khachatourians for a defense consultation – 818-590-8294.