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When Hazing becomes a Violent Crime

Hazing Rituals Cross the Line into Violent Crime

Hazing, a method of initiating a person into a group through harassment, abuse, or humiliation, is a common but deadly practice on many college campuses. Due to the severity of injuries that have resulted from hazing rituals in the past, both the legislature and prosecutors alike have taken steps to crack down on hazing.

For instance, in November of 2011, Robert Champion, a 26 year-old drum major at Florida A & M University, died as a result of a fatal beating that he received during a hazing ritual following a FAMU football game. State prosecutors initially charged the band members who were involved in the incident with the violent crime of felony hazing, which carries a maximum five-year prison sentence. Later, the prosecutors decided to add an additional charge of manslaughter. Now, the band members, who have not entered a plea agreement, are still awaiting trial and could face a maximum prison sentence of up to 15 years.

In Michigan, a person who participates in hazing faces similar consequences. Under Michigan law, hazing typically includes any of the following: (1) physical brutality such as beating, branding and shocking; (2) physical activity that subjects a person to an unreasonable risk of harm or adversely affects a person's health or safety; (3) activity which involves the consumption of food, drugs, or alcohol; or (4) activity which involves the act of hazing or the commission of a crime.

If a criminal defendant is convicted of hazing, additional penalties may be imposed for any other criminal offense that arose from the same conduct. Therefore, if you or a loved one attends a Michigan college or university and is facing misdemeanor or felony charges for hazing, it is important to contact an experienced Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, and Grand Rapids criminal defense attorney today so that you can gain a better understanding of your rights.

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