Apr 10, 2014

Texas State "Hazing" Laws: Houston Criminal Attorney

Hazing is a broad term encompassing any action or activity which does not contribute to the positive
development of a person; which inflicts or intends to cause physical or mental harm or anxieties or
sleep deprivation; which may demean, degrade, or disgrace any person, regardless of location, intent
or consent of participants. Hazing can also be defined as any action or situation which intentionally
or unintentionally endangers a student seeking admission into or affiliation with any student
In most states hazing is considered a misdemeanor with fines of up to $5,000. The problem states are having is with reporting incidents: working toward a federal law is critical to solving the bullying problem because the number of incidents reported is crucial.
A study by Alfred University has found that hazing is most likely to occur on campuses in eastern or southern states. Eastern and western states have the most alcohol-related hazing while southern and western states have the most dangerous hazing. Women are most likely to be involved with alcohol-related hazing. Male athletes who play soccer, lacrosse, swim or dive are most at risk for hazing in general, while football players are most likely to be dangerously or illegally hazed. The study found athletes and coaches agree on a few ways to prevent hazing; introduce clear anti-hazing messages, expect responsibility from athletes, and offer team bonding supervised by a coach.

The Texas State Legislature enacted laws concerning hazing in 1995; under Texas Education Code (ED.C.)§ 4.52(a), individuals or organizations engaging in hazing could be subject to fines and charged with a criminal offense. According to the law, a person can commit a hazing offense not only by engaging in a hazing activity, but also by soliciting, directing, encouraging, aiding or attempting to aid another in hazing; by intentionally, knowingly or recklessly allowing hazing to occur; or by failing to report, in writing to the Dean of Students or another appropriate official of the institution, first-hand knowledge that a hazing incident is planned or has occurred. The fact that a person consented to or acquiesced in a hazing activity is not a defense to prosecution for hazing under this law.

A person commits an offense if they:
  • Engage in hazing;
  • Solicit, encourage, direct, aid, or attempt to aid another in engaging in hazing;
  • Have firsthand knowledge of the planning of specific hazing incident involving a student in an educational institution, or have firsthand knowledge that a specific hazing incident has occurred, and knowingly fail to report this knowledge in writing to the dean of students or another appropriate official of the institution.

Hazing may occur on or off the campus, and consent is not considered a defense.

Penalties for personal hazing are dependent on the character of injury; if there is no serious bodily injury it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $500 and $1000, county jail for time between 90 and 180 days, or both. If there is serious bodily injury it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $1000 and $5000 and/or a jail sentence between 180 days and one year.
Hazing that results in a death is also a misdemeanor, with fines of $5000 to $10,000 and/or not less than one year or more than two years incarceration.

An organization convicted of hazing faces a fine not less than $5000 or more than $10,000. If there is  personal injury, property damage or other los, the court may sentence the organization to pay a fine of not less than $5000, nor more than the double amount of loss incurred.
The offense of failing to report hazing is punishable by a fine of up to $1000, confinement in the county jail for not more than 180 days, or both.

If you have been accused of a crime, please contact us today at 713-224-3967 or visit www.parnhamandmcwilliams.com for a free consultation with an aggressive and resourceful criminal defense attorney. We will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.


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