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Hazing – Is It a Crime in North Carolina?

If you have ever been a part of a fraternity, sorority, or other organized groups, you are probably familiar with the term hazing. But did you know that in the state of North Carolina hazing is a crime? If you or a loved one has been involved in a hazing incident, you could be facing both civil and criminal charges, as well as a repercussion from the school or university you attend. It is important to have a defense attorney on your side who can make sure you are protected. Contact us today to learn how we can advocate for you.

What is Hazing?

Hazing is defined by the North Carolina statute §14-35 as “subjecting another student to physical injury as part of an initiation, or as a prerequisite to membership into any organized school group, including any society, athletic team, fraternity or sorority, or other similar groups.” The statute prohibits students attending school from engaging in hazing or aiding and abetting any other student in hazing.

Types of Hazing Subtle Hazing

Subtle hazing is less obvious and seemingly harmless. You may not even realize that the events that took place were hazing. Some examples of subtle hazing are:

  • Requiring new members to do certain duties
  • Social isolation
  • Name Calling
  • Requiring new members to always have certain items in their possession
  • Depriving new members of their normal study or school schedule
Harassment Hazing

Harassment hazing is more serious than subtle hazing and has the potential to cause physical discomfort or emotional distress. Some examples of harassment hazing are:

  • Making threatening comments or remarks
  • Requiring new members to wear embarrassing clothing
  • Requiring new members to do certain personal tasks for other members. For example, cleaning, cooking, errands.
  • Depriving new members of sleep
  • Depriving new members of a normal schedule of personal hygiene
Violent Hazing

Violent hazing is the most serious type of hazing and can have potentially deadly consequences. Some examples of violent hazing are:

  • Forced exposure to extreme weather
  • Forced participation in certain physical activities
  • Forcing new members to eat or drink to excess
  • Forcing new members to partake in drugs and alcohol
  • Physically assaulting new members
  • Forcing new members to engage in illegal activities, such as shoplifting
Criminal Charges

Almost every state in the country has some form of anti-hazing laws; North Carolina is no exception. In the state of North Carolina, hazing is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, which carries a potential sentence of 60 days in prison and fines. It is important to understand that hazing can lead to additional, potentially more serious charges. In the unfortunate event that someone is seriously injured, or even killed, during a hazing incident, you could be charged with offenses such as:

  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • False imprisonment
  • Assault
  • Murder

What may have started as a seemingly harmless prank, or a long-standing initiation tradition could spiral out of control. Regardless of the severity of your situation, it is important to have a criminal defense attorney on your side who can defend your rights.

Civil Liability

Even if you are not convicted of a crime, you may still be facing civil liability. While a civil suit may not necessarily result in jail time, it could severely damage your reputation and result in serious fines. Potential civil suits that may be brought are:

  • Wrongful death lawsuit
  • Negligence
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress
Repercussions with a University or Organization

If you have been involved in a hazing incident, there will likely be repercussions with your university or school. Most schools have a strict zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. It is possible that you could be expelled and removed from the organization that was involved in the hazing incident. The organization itself could also be facing repercussions from the school or university. Depending on the severity of the event, the school could shut down the organization altogether.

We Can Help

If you have been involved in a hazing incident, it is important that you consult an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can help protect your rights and freedom. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. For your convenience and safety, we now offer phone and video conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.