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What Does California Law Say About Hazing?


Is your child facing criminal charges for hazing? Hazing is considered a serious offense in California, which is why any charges against your child should be dealt with immediately. Hazing charges can differ depending on several different factors, including the age of the individual accused, the severity of the crime, and whether or not anyone was injured.

If someone you love is facing hazing charges, make sure you know how this crime is usually dealt with in California.

Understanding Hazing Laws

According to California Penal Code 245.6, hazing is defined 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. The term "hazing" does not include customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events.

In other words, hazing is much like a drastic form of bullying where the victim is likely to suffer serious bodily harm. When a person is hazed, he or she is put through a series of demeaning, humiliating, or harmful tasks in order to join a club or team. Hazing often takes place on college campuses, but can also occur within high school organizations and other sports teams or clubs.

Juvenile or Criminal Court?

When a person is charged with a hazing crime, they could go to either juvenile or criminal court. The way in which an individual is charged depends largely on their age. If an individual is under the age of 17 and is therefore not yet a legal adult, he or she will most likely be charged in juvenile court. Individuals over the age of 18 will almost certainly be charged in criminal court as adults.

There are several variances between juvenile court and criminal court, but the central difference is each court’s intent. Juvenile court aims to correct and rehabilitate the convicted, whereas the adult criminal court is designed to punish. For this reason, the penalties in criminal court are often much more serious.

The Potential Repercussions

In criminal court, an individual found guilty of hazing as a misdemeanor, meaning nobody was harmed during the act, could still face hefty fines (up to $5,000), and up to 1 year in jail. However, if the individual is convicted of a hazing felony, he or she could face up to 3 years in jail, along with several other consequences. Even without these serious repercussions, individuals charged with hazing could face expulsion, as well as academic, professional, and personal setbacks.

If a child is charged with hazing in juvenile court, he or she could be ordered to perform mandatory community service, attend behavioral programs, pay fines, perform overnight detention, or they may be sent to a juvenile detention facility.

The consequences for hazing crimes are extremely severe in California, which is why you need to act fast if your child is facing charges. To protect their rights and their future, make sure you discuss your options with an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer.

Contact Chung & Ignacio, LLP to speak with our Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense attorneys today.