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Hazing Laws in Georgia and What You Need to Know

By February 28, 2022August 12th, 2022No Comments

It is illegal for any person to haze any student in connection with, or as a precondition to, joining any school organization in Georgia. 

If you have been accused of hazing, it is crucial to have an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney on your side. The Frye Law Group has experience defending students in hazing cases, and knows how to make sure this seemingly low-bar accusation is handled properly as the serious case it is.

What Does Georgia Law Say About Hazing?

Georgia law recently underwent some changes when it comes to its views on hazing. The Max Gruver Act, which addresses hazing and similar harassment, went into effect on July 1, 2021. 

This act was created because in 2017 student Max Gruver was 1 of 4 male students who died due to fraternity hazing. 

As initially written, the law would have:

  • Made bystanders who didn’t do anything to stop hazing guilty of a misdemeanor
  • Allowed the Attorney General to bring civil lawsuits against adult trustees who knowingly allowed or covered up hazing
  • Required all Georgia schools to adopt new policies to deter hazing, such as publishing an annual report on all hazing incidents
  • Made hazing a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

While those specific provisions within the Max Gruver Act were not included in the final piece of legislation, there were some changes made to the law regarding hazing.

The changes included:

  • An expansion of the definition
  • Increased penalty for violation
  • More types of schools and organizations covered under the law (nearly all)
  • More types of students (new or existing) protected

Under The Max Gruver Act, How Does the State of Georgia Now Define Hazing?

The State of Georgia now defines hazing as an activity that endangers or is likely to endanger the physical health of a student.

This can include coercing a student through social or physical pressure to consume any:

  • Food
  • Liquid
  • Alcohol
  • Drug
  • Other substances that could result in vomiting, intoxication, or unconsciousness

In Georgia, this definition stands even if the student was a willing participant. Which is why, if accused of hazing, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

What Happens If You Are Found Guilty of Hazing in Georgia?

Under Georgia law, a hazing conviction is classified as a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Misdemeanors of a high and aggravated nature are punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 12 months in jail.

In other words, if convicted, you could face prison time, a hefty fine, or both. A judge and jury would determine your sentence.

To be found guilty of hazing, the state of Georgia must demonstrate, without a reasonable doubt, that the activity the student was subjected to in and of itself was dangerous or had the potential to endanger the student’s physical health.

What Are Some Ways You Can Fight A Hazing Charge in Georgia?

There are a few different ways to defend a hazing charge here in Georgia.

The judge and jury would have to be shown, without any doubt, that the activity in question was not a danger to the student’s life or overall health.

Another way is convincing a judge and jury of your innocence due to a strong alibi or other evidence that shows you were not a part of the hazing activity.

Saying that the student consented to hazing or that the activity was an innocent joke is not a defense. The law is very clear: hazing is illegal, even with the student’s consent.

Have You Been Accused of Hazing? The Frye Law Group is Here to Help

The last thing you want to have on your record is a criminal charge. 

The Frye Law Group has experience defending people accused of many crimes, including hazing. Our goal is to make sure your future is protected—working within the criminal justice system to protect your rights. To learn more, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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