Hazing is defined in Colorado under Statute 18-9-124 as a result of extensive coverage on the same topic in multiple college code of conduct books. The state legislature is concerned about intimidation and degradation. While certain criminal statutes cover hazing activities like assault or harassment, other activities are not specifically outlawed.
There are many activities that students might be surprised to learn would fall under “Hazing.” Specifically, any retaliatory or harmful behavior might be considered hazing. If you have been accused of hazing, call Justie and Jenn at Nicol Gersch Law ASAP! A Colorado Front Range hazing lawyer could help you understand the charges, help you to navigate your educational system and the criminal system, and help you avoid any harsh consequences on multiple fronts. Speak to a skilled student defense attorney to learn about your legal options.
The state legislature has determined that anything that threatens the health of students or that can escalate and result in serious injury should be considered hazing. This can cover anything that recklessly endangers one’s health or safety or causes a risk of bodily harm to another individual for the purpose of initiation or admission into any affiliated student organization. Customary athletic events, training activities conducted by members of the armed forces, or similar contests or competitions, however, have been specifically carved out by state statute as allowable.
Activities described as hazing by state statues include prolonged or forced physical activity, forced consumption or consumption in excess of any food, beverage, or substance not intended for human consumption, and prolonged deprivation of sleep, food, or drink. Universities can expand on the definition of hazing and conduct their own investigation separate from the state, but students can find themselves facing criminal charges for hazing as well.
Students can commonly face imprisonment, fines, court costs, or probation if found responsible for hazing, as such an offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. Universities often have their own sanctions for hazing, such as banning the associated student organization from university functions or campus, or even challenging or withdrawing the organization’s status as a recognized student organization. A knowledgeable Colorado Front Range hazing lawyer could review the facts of the case and help students build a defense.
A student can be penalized if they were the one being hazed if they were also required to haze another initiate. Incoming initiates are sometimes be forced to haze each other. If the activities fall under the definition of hazing, students can be charged for that offense as an accomplice or independently, regardless of their ranks within a student organization. However, if a student seeks medical help for someone who is overdosing, exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning, or in need of immediate medical help, then there is an exception and that student is not likely to be charged for whistleblowing.
A student defense attorney can help those facing campus hazing charges by thoroughly analyzing a case to determine if there are defensible issues, such as violations of constitutional or Miranda rights, that can lead to a criminal case being dismissed.
Student defense attorneys often address mitigating factors that can be persuasive to both the university and the district attorney in order to minimize the consequences of a criminal case. By way of example we often have students complete community service, go to counseling, or provide character references prior to appearing in court or meeting with a student conduct hearing officer.
An experienced Colorado Front Range hazing attorney will be armed with information and an effective strategy to resolve the case and address any underlying issues. Call today to learn more about how Jenn and Justie at Nicol Gersch could help you with your case.