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From fraternities and sororities to sports teams, the initiation process of many college groups includes hazing. Although members believe hazing is harmless fun designed to create lasting bonds, there are many incidents in which a person suffers immense embarrassment and shame, serious injury, or even dies just to join a campus group.

According to Virginia law, hazing means intentionally and recklessly endangering a student’s health or safety or inflicting bodily harm on a student for the purpose of initiation of a group or continued membership.

Ranging from subtle to violent, common forms of hazing include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Performing duties and tasks for the benefit of members
  • Member-ordered physical activity and exercise
  • Wearing embarrassing or exposing clothing
  • Subject to screaming and yelling
  • Forced confinement
  • Paddling, shoving, or any other physical contact
  • Branding or labeling
  • Forced consumption of alcohol or other liquids

In Virginia, hazing is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum 12-month jail term and a fine of up to $2,500 for each act. Other actions, such as food adulteration or assault, can also be punished and sometimes result in felony charges. In addition, victims have the right to sue their alleged abusers for negligence, assault, emotional distress, and/or false imprisonment.

A hazing conviction on a student’s criminal record can not only result in suspension or expulsion from school, but also significant damage to his/her career prospects.

If you are a student or a parent of a student who has been charged with hazing in Fredericksburg, contact Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law today at (540) 386-0204 and schedule a free consultation.