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Hazing Law & Defense
PC 245.6 Crimes
Information on the crime of hazing is found at California penal code section 245.6. Hazing is a type of assault against a victim that occurs as an initiation ritual (usually as part of joining a fraternity or sorority in college) and sometimes with the victim's cooperation.
Note: Hazing is a crime, even if the person hazed is not actually injured (PC 246.6(a)
PC 245.6(b): Hazing means any method of initiation 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 (Abbrev.).
Note: The term hazing does not include customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events.
Punishment for Hazing
PC 245.6(c) Hazing without injury: Hazing that does not result in serious bodily injury is a misdemeanor. If found guilty of hazing pursuant to PC 245.6(c), the defendant could face up to 180 days in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.
PC 245.6(d) Hazing that leads to serious bodily injury or death is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. When PC 245.6(d) is charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant could face up to one year in the county jail. When PC 245.6(d) is charged as a felony, the defendant could face up to three years in jail.
Probation: A probation sentence is period supervision instead of jail. Probation sentence are allowed in both misdemeanor and felony hazing crimes, but they are not guaranteed. Whether a defendant who is convicted of a hazing crime is granted a probation sentence depends largely on the facts of the case and the defendant's criminal history, if any (among other factors).
PC 1170(h) Sentencing: If the defendant is not granted a probation sentence after a conviction for hazing, then the defendant may request that any jail time be split (served partially in custody and partially out of custody on house arrest or work release), or suspended (not served unless the defendant violates some condition of his or her out of custody sentence). In any event, incarceration for any PC 245.6 conviction is served in a local county jail as opposed to a state prison (PC 1170(h)).
Bail: The scheduled bail amount for hazing in San Bernardino County is $25,000 for felony and $5,000 for misdemeanor charges (2020). This amount may be lowered or raised based on several factors considered by the court at the defendant's arraignment (first court appearance).
Expelled: The defendant(s) in a hazing case may be expelled from a college or university even if the district attorney dismisses PC 246.6 charges against the defendant(s).
Civil Lawsuits: PC 245.6(e) The person against whom the hazing is directed may commence a civil action for injury or damages. The action may be brought against any participants 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.
In addition, hazing may be charged in addition to any other charge. For example, if the defendant is alleged to have assaulted another person with the intent to initiate the other person into a fraternity, the defendant may be charged with both assault and the hazing charges.
Defenses to Hazing
Common defenses to hazing include: insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant acted with the intent to initiate another person, alibi, statute of limitations, defense of others, self-defense, intoxication, coerced confessions, and more.
Note: It is not a defense a hazing criminal charge to show that the person who was the subject of the hazing consented to the ritual.
If you or a loved one is charged with hazing, or penal code section 245.6, contact our criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Our defense lawyers dedicate 100% of their practice to criminal defense and we are available seven days a week to assist you. Call today!
Closely Related Crimes
Battery PC 242
Assault PC 240 & PC 245
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