Consider what happened at a mandatory pledge event at an Illinois college fraternity in 2012. Pledges were pressured to consume vodka given by active members, as much as three to five glasses within an hour and a half. When the pledges could no longer walk on their own, they were allegedly taken to the basement of the fraternity house, where several lost consciousness. No one called 911 or got medical care for them, and, as a result, one pledge died with a blood alcohol level of 0.43.
To prevent these situations from occurring, Illinois has an anti-hazing law, known as the Illinois Hazing Act (720 ILCS 120/5). Offenders who violate the act risk criminal prosecution, fines and even jail time, as well as losing the right to continue attending many schools. A conviction can mean a criminal record that can stay with you the rest of your life and interfere with your chances of employment, education, housing, and relationships.
If you or your child has been charged with hazing, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who is fully dedicated to protecting your interests. At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., our experienced and compassionate Illinois defense lawyers provide aggressive representation for individuals facing hazing charges. We offer a free consultation to examine every aspect of your situation to find ways to reduce your charges or have them dismissed.
The Illinois anti-hazing law applies to all educational institutions in Illinois, including colleges, universities, community colleges, and K-12 schools. The Act classifies hazing as a Class A misdemeanor. However, if hazing results in death or great bodily harm, it is then considered a Class 4 felony.
According to the statute, “A person commits hazing who knowingly requires the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State, for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society associated or connected with that institution if:
(a) the act is not sanctioned or authorized by that educational institution; and
(b) the act results in bodily harm to any person.”
Penalties for hazing are among the stiffest penalties of any state. Any hazing violation can result in up to 364 days of imprisonment plus a $5,000 fine. If hazing results in gross bodily harm or death, penalties increase to one to three years imprisonment and up to a $25,000 fine.
Educational institutions in Illinois have instituted their own anti-hazing policies, which may be even stricter than Illinois law. Policies often prohibit an even broader range of hazing conduct, including actions that endanger mental as well as physical health or safety or that cause harm to public or private property.
For example, Illinois College has a policy that prohibits conduct by individuals, organizations or groups affiliated with the College that is in violation of the Illinois law on hazing, or any hazing activity which threatens a person’s rights or self-respect, which disrupts community life or which encourages the violation of civil, state or federal law.
It lists the following activities as examples of hazing which will not be tolerated:
As punishment for violations of hazing policy, offenders can lose the right to attend Illinois College. They will also be subject to the sanctions of the State of Illinois for misdemeanors or felonies.
Every hazing situation is different, with varying underlying facts and circumstances. If you or your child has been charged with hazing offenses, you need legal counsel to advise you on the best defense for your individual case.
The Illinois seasoned hazing defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., are skilled trial lawyers with extensive experience handling complex criminal cases. Our team is trusted and respected in the community. When we take on a criminal case, we gather information quickly and look at all viable defense options. Based on the facts of the case, we make a decision about a legal strategy and pursue it vigorously.
We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense. We work hand in hand with our clients, explaining all elements of the case and the processes involved in an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
Don’t delay — contact us for a free consultation today if you have been accused of any bullying or harassment charges at 630-305-0222. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.