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Article: Arizona College Students Now Face Jail Time For Hazing, College Hazing

Arizona College Students Now Face Jail Time For Hazing

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Hazing is a pervasive and dangerous problem on campuses everywhere, including at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. Each year, hazing incidents resulting in serious injuries and deaths are widely reported in the media. While many states have made hazing a crime, it was not illegal in Arizona before now. The Arizona State Legislature recently passed Jack’s Law, which makes hazing a crime in the state. This law will be effective as of Sept. 24. Phoenix lawyer and public safety advocate Marc Lamber at the Arizona law firm of Fennemore has provided information about the new hazing law, the Good Samaritan exception, and the penalties to educate Arizonans about what to expect.

Jack’s Law

Jack’s Law was named after Jack Culolias, a 19-year-old freshman at Arizona State University. Culolias was given too much alcohol during a hazing event put on by the fraternity Culolias was pledging 10 years ago. He subsequently fell into Tempe Town Lake and drowned, and his body wasn’t found for several days. Following her son’s death, Grace Culolias was shocked to learn that hazing wasn’t illegal in Arizona. She filed a lawsuit against the fraternity, which she later settled. Ms. Culolias advocated with the state legislature to get a law passed criminalizing hazing in the state.

Rep. John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills) sponsored Jack’s Law and introduced it in the House of Representatives. It subsequently passed the house and senate and was signed into law by Gov. Greg Ducey. The law becomes effective on Sept. 24 and will impose jail time for students who organize hazing or haze others who are pledging a sorority or fraternity, participating in athletics, or joining any type of social organization. The law will apply to all of Arizona’s colleges and universities as well as K-12 schools in the state.

What Conduct Is Illegal Under Jack’s Law?

Jack’s Law is contained in Arizona H.B. 2322 and adds two statutes to Arizona’s criminal code, including ARS 13-1215 and ARS 13-1216. Under ARS 13-1215, a student can be convicted of hazing if they recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally coerce or cause a student or minor to engage in or endure any of the following activities for the purpose of pledging or initiation into an organization:

  • Sexual humiliation
  • Sexual brutality
  • Forced nudity
  • Act of sexual penetration
  • Physical or psychological tactics that are intended to cause the student to experience severe psychological distress, including the potential for the student to harm themselves or others
  • Consuming alcohol, food, drug, non-alcoholic beverage, or another substance that poses a substantial risk of injury or death
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Confinement in a small space
  • Restraint
  • Physical brutality that poses a significant risk of injury or death, including whipping, shocking, branding, paddling, beating, excessively exercising, exposing the student to the elements, and others

Students who are convicted of engaging in hazing will have either a misdemeanor or felony on their criminal records, depending on whether the hazing incident resulted in injury or death. Hazing that does not result in death is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If death occurs, it is a Class 4 felony.

ARS 13-1216 makes planning or organizing a hazing event a crime. Students can be charged with this offense if two or more agree for one or more of them to haze another student with the intent to facilitate hazing. To be convicted, the students must commit at least one overt act to further the plan.

A student can also be convicted of planning or organizing a hazing event if they engage in conduct that constitutes hazing, take a step to further hazing, or knowingly or intentionally act to help someone else commit hazing even if the hazing wasn’t completed. Planning or organizing a hazing event is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Exceptions

There is an exception to the hazing statute for Good Samaritans found in ARS 13-1215(C). Under this subsection, a student will not be charged with hazing if they transported another student to the hospital for a medical emergency caused by hazing if the sole evidence of the hazing was the fact that they were transported to the hospital. Similarly, a student will not be charged with hazing if they transport them to a health facility or report the incident to law enforcement, 911, or campus security officers when the student reasonably believes the victim requires immediate medical care to prevent injury or death.

This exception is designed to encourage students to seek help promptly when someone is in danger without fear of being prosecuted for hazing. In some past cases, students have died from alcohol poisoning in fraternities and sororities following hazing incidents when no one sought medical care for them. Hopefully, the Good Samaritan exception will prevent some of those types of tragic incidents from happening.

The hazing statute also includes an exception for reasonable athletic or military training, contests, law enforcement training, and competitions. A person won’t be charged with organizing or planning a hazing incident if they give written notice to the other involved parties that they are renouncing the plan to haze others.

Penalties for Hazing

An act of hazing that doesn’t result in death is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If a person is convicted of this offense, they will face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor on their permanent record
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fine of up to $2,500
  • Possible probation
  • Possible community service
  • Possible restitution

If a hazing incident results in death, hazing is a Class 4 felony. If a person is convicted of felony hazing, they will face the following penalties:

  • Felony on their permanent record
  • Prison from one to 3.75 years
  • Fine of up to $150,000
  • Possible probation
  • Possible restitution

Planning or organizing a hazing event is a Class 2 misdemeanor. If a person is convicted of this offense, they will face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor on their permanent record
  • Jail for up to four months
  • Fine of up to $750
  • Possible restitution
  • Possible probation
  • Possible community service

People can’t defend against hazing charges by arguing the victim consented to the hazing.

Hazing is a serious problem on campuses throughout Arizona and the nation. With Arizona’s new hazing law, students will hopefully stop engaging in this type of conduct. Many lives have been destroyed by hazing. Making it a crime in Arizona will likely help to prevent serious injuries and deaths from happening. For more information about Jack’s Law or for help if you have been the victim of hazing, talk to Phoenix lawyer Marc Lamber at Fennemore today.

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