An overview of Florida’s hazing laws

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2020 | Criminal Defense

You are now on your own and off to college. Do you party or do you study? Have your new friends asked you to go along with them as they play pranks and embarrass other students? You may realize that joining your friends in hazing someone is not as much fun as you thought.

Unfortunately, hazing is a reality of college life. Over 47% of students experience hazing before entering college; 3 out of 5 college students may face hazing.

The act of hazing

The definition of hazing is the act of a group that intentionally subjects another to do something that causes extreme embarrassment, harassment or ridicule, and risks emotional or physical harm. Examples of hazing may include:

  • Forcing another to consume alcohol
  • Requiring someone to endure physical or mental hardships such as menial tasks or labor
  • Forcing a person into isolation
  • Requiring a group member to do things other members do not have to do
  • Requiring another to do illegal acts

Hazing occurs in sports teams, Greek societies and other organizations. It does not always happen on college campuses. According to Stophazing, more than half of the college students experienced hazing.

The laws

In 2005, the Chad Meredith Act went into effect. The law made hazing a felony, even if the victim consented. The act includes hazing at the junior and senior high school levels. A person may receive a misdemeanor charge if the hazing act creates a substantial risk of injury or death. The law lists serious injury or death as a third-degree felony that could result in up to five years in prison.

In 2019, the Florida legislature passed Andrew’s Law, an expansion of the Chad Meredith Act. The law makes Greek leaders liable when someone sustains a serious or fatal injury, even if the leaders did not attend the hazing event. The law also grants immunity from criminal prosecution to the first person to call 911 or render medical aid to the victim.