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New Law Named for Deceased Penn State Student Enhances Hazing Penalties

New Jersey is one of an increasing number of states that has enacted laws designed to impose hasher penalties for hazing of all types. This includes fraternity hazing, sorority hazing, sports hazing, and hazing that occurs in a variety of other settings on the college and university as well as the high school level. The New Jersey hazing law is named after a native of the Garden State, Tim Piazza. As a Penn State student, Piazza died as the result of fraternity hazing in 2017. The new statute is entitled the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law.

As mentioned, New Jersey is the latest state to enact legislation designed to stiffen the penalties for hazing. Pennsylvania enacted its own law creating harsher penalties for hazing in the aftermath of Tim’s fraternity hazing death in the commonwealth. The Pennsylvania law went into effect in 2018 and includes a provision that allows to the confiscation of a fraternity house (or sorority house) in the event of a severe hazing incident.

Tim Piazza was 19 years old at the time of his death. His parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, have since leading anti-hazing advocates. They were on-hand for the signing ceremony when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill into law.

At the signing, Governor Murphy made it clear that under the new law, “hazing will no longer be treated with a symbolic smack on the back of the hand or, worse, a blind eye and a smirk.” Tim Piazza’s parents were each given a pen used by the Governor to sign the legislation into law.

One of the sponsors of the law in the Legislature summed up her thoughts on the legislation:

It is evident that Greek life and hazing rituals continue to be intertwined and are still taking place at colleges throughout the country. Anything that puts the physical wellbeing of students at risk must be met with repercussions and college fraternities and sororities must understand that hazing is not going to be tolerated under any circumstances.

The primary features of the new law regarding hazing in New Jersey includes a number of key provisions:

  • The law requires all public and private colleges and universities as well as all public and private middle and high schools to draw up anti-hazing policies.
  • Penalties for violation of these policies need to be significant and include such consequences as:
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Withholding of a diploma
  • If hazing results in death or serious injury, it is classified as a third-degree crime. This is an increase from where it had stood as a fourth-degree crime.
  • A conviction can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
  • A conviction can carry a fine as high as $15,000.
  • Both a prison sentence and a fine can be imposed under the terms of the new law.

The Tim Piazza anti-hazing law includes a wider swath of activities under the definition of hazing. These include:

  • Coercion of a person to violate the law.
  • Consumption of food that places a person at physical or emotional risk.
  • Consumption of alcohol that puts a person at physical or emotional risk.
  • Subjecting a person to physical brutality.
  • Subjecting a person to mental brutality.
  • Any type of activity that could hurt a person.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a hazing incident, the legal team at The Doan Law Firm is here to fight for and protect your important legal rights. You can schedule an initial consultation with a hazing lawyer from our firm any time of the day or night by calling us at (800) 349-0000.

The Doan Law Firm is a nationwide legal practice. We have 40 offices located from coast to coast across the country. An appointment with a hazing attorney can be scheduled at any one of our offices. We can also schedule a virtual consultation for you online. There is never a charge for an initial consultation with a Doan Law Firm hazing accident lawyer.

The Doan Law Firm also makes an attorney fee promise to you. Our firm will never charge you an attorney fee in your case unless we win for you. Our legal team will fight tirelessly on your behalf to obtain justice for you in your case.

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