Westchester County Hazing Lawyer
Hazing charges generally arise when an individual or group of individuals want a third party to perform some act as a prerequisite to joining an organization, such as a fraternity or sorority. Hazing may also occur at workplaces, where more senior employees may assign undesirable or dangerous tasks to the newest employees.
Being accused of hazing often leads to disciplinary consequences at school or work, but it can also lead to criminal charges as well. If you find yourself facing such charges, you may be wondering how to respond to these accusations and what you can do to defend yourself.
An experienced Westchester County hazing lawyer should be familiar with how to handle all sorts of hazing cases and could answer any questions you may have about the legal process or your options. Following that, your criminal defense attorney could work to uncover favorable evidence on your behalf and defend your rights at every stage of the process, from arraignment to trial.
What are Common Examples of Hazing?
There are countless examples of hazing that have occurred on college campuses and elsewhere throughout the country. Some forms of hazing are considered “subtle,” like restricting someone’s ability to communicate with non-members or depriving them of sleep. Other forms of hazing could be considered harassment, or any action that results in emotional anguish. These examples could include yelling, screaming, forced confinement, or other demeaning acts. Some of the most serious forms of hazing are violent. Violent hazing could involve anything from forced nudity to physical assault. An experienced attorney in Westchester County could determine how to best build a defense depending on the form of hazing an individual is being accused of.
Hazing Laws Applicable to Westchester County
For hazing to be a crime in Westchester County, there must be intentional or knowing conduct related to the process of a person being initiated into an organization that creates a substantial risk of physical injury. New York Penal Law §120.17 defines this crime as hazing in the second degree and classifies it as a violation punishable by up to 15 days in prison. Additionally, those convicted of a violation may have to pay up to a $250 fine, as per NYPL §80.05.
First-degree hazing is the more serious variant of this basic hazing charge. Under NYPL §120.16, a person commits first-degree hazing if they engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of injury and such an injury actually occurs.
First-degree hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, which may result in a fine of up to $1,000 under NYPL §80.05. Additionally, first-degree hazing may result in up to a year of imprisonment in particularly severe cases. Given the increased severity of first-degree hazing charges, any person that needs legal assistance against such a charge may wish to call a Westchester County hazing lawyer as soon as possible.
What Evidence is Used in a Hazing Prosecution?
Often, the prosecution for a hazing case is built around witness testimony. In many cases, only the other members of the organization in question witness the acts of hazing. However, that is not always the case. Anyone who took part in or saw these acts could be called to testify. In other cases, video evidence could be used by the prosecution. Often, this is the strongest evidence available in a hazing case. Finally, the medical records of the reporting victim could also be featured prominently in cases where injuries occurred.
Defending Against Hazing Charges
There are a few possible defenses to hazing charges, depending on the exact circumstances of the case. These defenses generally center around disproving the presence of specific elements that qualify an action as illegal hazing.
For example, both first- and second-degree hazing charges require intentional or reckless conduct. If an individual accidentally placed another at risk of injury, they may not be guilty of hazing as New York Penal Law defines it.
Additionally, hazing requires the conduct in question to be a part of inducing or initiating someone into an organization. If there are no facts suggesting any kind of initiation, a defendant may not be convicted of hazing. A hazing attorney in Westchester County could provide more information on defenses and how to properly defend any given case.
Is it Possible to Expunge or Seal a Hazing Conviction?
While state law does not allow for the expungement of a criminal conviction, the state does provide an option to seal certain convictions from the public record. Typically, hazing convictions in both the first and second degree are available to be sealed. It is worth noting that a person can only have two convictions sealed during the course of their life. For that reason, it is better to focus on avoiding a hazing conviction at all with the help of a skilled attorney in Westchester County.
How a Westchester County Hazing Attorney Could Help
If you are dealing with hazing charges in New York State, hiring a seasoned attorney may be essential to ensuring you receive a fair trial. An experienced Westchester County hazing lawyer could sit down with you and review your situation, then work with you to come up with a defense strategy for your specific case.
Skilled attorneys could defend you in negotiations and in court to give you the best possible chance at a favorable outcome. Call today for help with your criminal case.