Utah Criminal Code 76-5-107.5: Prohibition Of “Hazing“–Definitions–Penalties
1. A person is guilty of hazing if that person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly commits an act or causes another to commit an act that:
a) any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury; or
b) a facsimile or representation of the item, if:
I. the actor’s use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or
II. the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is in control of such an item.
a) endangers the mental or physical health or safety of another;
I. involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;
II. involves consumption of any food, alcoholic product, drug, or other substance or any other physical activity that endangers the mental or physical health and safety of an individual; or
III. involves any activity that would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact, or conduct that subjects another to extreme embarrassment, shame, or humiliation; and
b) (i)is for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, holding office in, or as a condition for continued membership in any organization; or
(ii) if the actor knew that the victim is a member of or candidate for membership with a school team or school organization to which the actor belongs or did belong within the preceding two years.
2. It is not a defense to prosecution of hazing that a person under 21, against whom the hazing was directed, consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity.
3. An actor who hazes another is guilty of a:
a) class B misdemeanor except as provided in Subsection (3)(b),
b) class A misdemeanor if the act involves:
I. the operation or other use of a motor vehicle;
II. the consumption of an alcoholic product as defined in Section 32B-1-102; or
III. the consumption of a drug or a substance as defined in Section 76-5-113;
c. third degree felony if the act involves the use of a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601;
d. third degree felony if the hazing results in serious bodily injury to a person; or
e. second degree felony if hazing under Subsection (3)(d) involves the use of a dangerous weapon as defined in Section 76-1-601.
4. A person who in good faith reports or participates in reporting of an alleged hazing is not subject to any civil or criminal liability regarding the reporting.
5. (a) This section does not apply to military training or other official military activities. (b) Military conduct is governed by Title 39, Chapter 6, Utah Code of Military Justice.
6. A prosecution under this section does not bar a prosecution of the actor for:
I. any other offense for which the actor may be liable as a party for conduct committed by the person hazed; or
II. any offense, caused in the course of the hazing, that the actor commits against the person who is hazed.
b. Under Subsection (6)(a)(i) a person may be separately punished, both for the hazing offense and the conduct committed by the person hazed.
c. Under Subsection (6)(a)(ii) a person may not be punished both for hazing and for the other offense, but shall be punished for the offense carrying the greater maximum penalty.
Terms Used In Utah Code 76-5-107.5
• Act: means a voluntary bodily movement and includes speech.
• Actor: means a person whose criminal responsibility is in issue in a criminal action.
• Bodily injury: means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.
• Conduct: means an act or omission.
Hazing refers to “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are students at an education institution.”
The following are the specific actions considered as hazing:
• Any form of physical brutality, such as beating, branding, or whipping.
• Any activity which threatens the body of permanent damage, such as sleep deprivation, confinement to a small area, exposure to extreme and inclement weather.
• Forced consumption of any substance that would result in unreasonable harm, such as alcohol, drugs, or food.
• Any act which results in unreasonable emotional or mental distress.
Utah Penalties for Hazing
Individuals participating in, encouraging or knowledgeable of harmful hazing are subject to hazing charges. Failing to report and any other offense that does not cause serious bodily injury is considered a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000. Any hazing offense that causes serious bodily injury to another is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum county jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000. Any hazing offense that causes the death of another is a state jail felony, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine of up to $1,000. On the other hand, if the entire organization, or any section including pledges, members, or alumni, is found to blame for the harm of another student in light of hazing, the charges are considered misdemeanors. Additionally, the organization as a whole will be charged between $5,000 and $10,000. If those actions cause a personal injury, extreme damages or irreplaceable loss, it is punishable by a fine ranging from $5,000 or double the amount lost.
Consequences of Hazing – There are consequences for individuals and organizations involved in hazing activities. It is important to understand how actions impact the individuals being hazed, those conducting the activities, and the organization they belong to.
For the person being hazed
The media is full of stories reporting one of the worst possible consequences of hazing: death. While death is a horrendous possible outcome, there are far more examples of less severe but still life-altering consequences. One study has shown that 71% of those who are hazed suffer from negative consequences. These consequences may include:
• Physical, emotional, and/or mental instability
• Sleep deprivation
• Loss of sense of control and empowerment
• Decline in grades and coursework
• Relationships with friends, significant others, and family suffer
• Post-traumatic stress syndrome
• Loss of respect for and interest in being part of the organization
• Erosion of trust within the group members
• Illness or hospitalization with additional effects on family and friends
Those who are leading or participating in the hazing may unintentionally trigger the memory of a traumatic event in the victim’s past that could result in devastating consequences.
For the person doing the hazing
Those who are accused of engaging in the hazing behaviors may face:
• Legal actions up to and including jail time and fines – The state enacted an anti–hazing law in 2004. Those who are accused of engaging in hazing behaviors may face legal actions up to and including jail time. In addition, victims of hazing may pursue monetary damage in civil court from individuals and groups involved.
• University action – The U-M Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities, prohibits hazing. Those who are found responsible for hazing face sanctions which may range from participating in educational programming to separation from the University (suspension or expulsion).
• Membership and Organizational Sanctions – Inter/national organizations may impose membership sanctions (probation, suspension or expulsion) and those that receive housing, scholarships, or financial assistance thorough the national organization may lose all of those benefits.
• Personal impact – In addition to being accountable to the organization, the University, the state criminal process, and civil litigation, those that haze may experience the following:
Decline in grades and coursework
Relationships with friends, significant others, and family suffer
Loss of connection to alums through the organization
Damage to one’s personal reputation
Warped sense of leadership
Feelings of shame and guilt
For the organization doing the hazing- By participating in hazing, not only are individuals affected, but the organization also suffers. Individuals and their organization are accountable to the national and/or international offices as well as institutional and local governing boards. In addition to the organization or team being shut down, the following outcomes may result when members of an organization or team participate in hazing:
Loss of reputation within the University community and the national community
Loss of recognition for the organization and/or other privileges revoked
Suspension of team and/or loss of privileges
Civil damages may be levied against the organization
Chapter officers may be held responsible
A gradual erosion of the true meaning and values of the organization
Individuals and their organization are accountable to the national and/or international offices as well as institutional and local governing boards.
Ways to Stop Hazing
Even a single member has the opportunity to create an atmosphere that eliminates hazing. Here are some strategies to consider when trying to enact change within an organization.
Reduce the Power Differential between Members and Initiates
Members of fraternities and sororities do not have an innate desire to haze, but they are often placed in situations where they can exert power over new members. By creating an atmosphere where new members can discuss their experiences with existing members without punishment, members will find fewer opportunities to haze.
Give Members Time to Reflect on Their Actions
Members in a high-pressure hazing situation are more likely to think irrationally and act in demeaning ways. Planning pledging activities in advance and allowing members to understand and discuss their role in the proceedings reduces the possibility of making poor, hasty decisions.
Encourage Members to Voice Concern with the New Member Education Program
Those who oppose hazing are less likely to speak out if they feel they are alone in their opinion. Even a single member who speaks out against hazing can encourage others to do the same.
Be Willing to Amend Traditions
The same education methods may not work for every new member class. Organizations should consider multiple solutions to solving problems and use campus and organizational resources to enhance their creativity. Consider the activities you create as part of a new tradition for future members.
Types Of Hazing
The following are some examples of hazing divided into three categories: subtle, harassment, and violent. It is impossible to list all possible hazing behaviors because many are context-specific. While this is not an all-inclusive list, it provides some common examples of hazing traditions.
Subtle hazing is behavior that emphasizes a power imbalance between new members/rookies and other members of the group or team. Termed “subtle hazing” because these types of hazing are often taken for granted or accepted as “harmless” or meaningless. Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place new members/rookies on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members/rookies often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or team.
Silence periods with implied threats for violation
Deprivation of privileges granted to other members
Requiring new members/rookies to perform duties not assigned to other members
Socially isolating new members/rookies
Line-ups and drills/tests on meaningless information
Requiring new members/rookies to refer to other members with titles (e.g. “Mr.,” “Miss”) while they are identified with demeaning terms
Expecting certain items to always be in one’s possession
Harassment hazing is behavior that causes emotional anguish or physical discomfort to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members/rookies. (Some types of harassment hazing can also be considered violent hazing).
Threats or implied threats
Asking new members to wear embarrassing or humiliating attire
Stunt or skit nights with degrading, crude, or humiliating acts
Expecting new members/rookies to perform personal service to other members such as carrying books, errands, cooking, cleaning, etc.
Expecting new members/rookies to be deprived of maintaining a normal schedule of bodily cleanliness
Be expected to harass others
Violent hazing is behavior that has the potential to cause physical and/or emotional, or psychological harm.
Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
Beating, paddling, or other forms of assault
Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances or concoctions
Expecting abuse or mistreatment of animals
Expecting illegal activity
Exposure to cold weather or extreme heat without appropriate protection
Hazing Defense Lawyer
When you need legal help defending against Hazing Criminal Charges in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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