What Is Hazing?
Hazing is generally the completion of any activity that a person is required to join or participate in as a group that degrades or abuses them regardless of their willingness to participate. Hazing is also referred to as initiation or ragging and is most popularly known as occurring in fraternities, sororities, and sports teams. Many schools and universities have more specific definitions and anti-hazing policies, and the state of Illinois also has laws that define and prohibit hazing.
Illinois Hazing Laws
Under 720 ILCS § 12C-50, a person violates the hazing laws when they knowingly require another person or student in a school, college, university, or educational institute to perform an act in order to be inducted or admitted into a group, organization, or society associated with the educational institution if the act:
- causes bodily harm to anyone, and
- is not authorized or sanctioned by the education institution.
Examples of Hazing
Hazing can be subtle (i.e. seen as harmless or meaningless), harassment (i.e. meant to annoy or frustrate an initiate), or violent (i.e. dangerous acts that can cause a person harm). Subtle hazing can include but is not limited to:
- Addressing inducted members by certain names or in a certain manner (i.e. dancing, bowing, etc.)
- Busy work
- Communication restrictions
- Exercise or physical activities
- Sleep depreciation
Harassment hazing can include but is not limited to:
- Abandonment in an isolated area or area away from campus (with the expectation you must find your way back)
- Pranks (i.e. stealing from staff or professors, vandalism, etc.)
- Servitude or chores
- Verbal harassment (i.e. participating in a lineup where people are demeaned)
- Wearing uncomfortable or offensive outfits or “uniforms”
Violent hazing can include but is not limited to:
- Branding, labeling, or shaving parts of a participant’s body
- Coerced sexual activity
- Forced nudity
- Pushing, tackling, or other physical activity
Consequences of Hazing in Illinois
As hazing is illegal, offenders can suffer criminal consequences. Hazing is typically classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and imprisonment for up to a year. A conviction will remain on your record and will appear on background checks, which can impact you for the rest of your life.
In addition to criminal penalties, an alleged offender can be penalized by their school or university and may be suspended or expelled. They may also be sued by the supposed victim in a civil case, which can result in hefty compensatory awards.
Is Hazing a Felony in Illinois?
Yes, in some cases, hazing is considered a felony. If the hazing causes a person to die or suffer great bodily harm, an alleged offender can be charged with a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. Felony convictions can also negatively impact an offender’s ability to:
- Obtain a loan
- Maintain certain professional licenses
- Obtain gainful employment
- Be accepted into some colleges and universities
- Maintain a scholarship award
- Own, possess, or use a gun or ammunition
Obtain Legal Counsel Today
If you or your child have been charged with hazing, you should retain the services of the Law Office of Steven Fine as soon as possible. Misdemeanor and felony convictions can have long-lasting effects on your life, which is why it is imperative you have our skilled attorney at your side. Attorney Fine can help you understand your legal options and develop a solid defense strategy, and we can work tirelessly to help you achieve the best possible case results.
To schedule a case consultation, telephone (312) 436-0638 or reach out online today.