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Hazing Law in Wisconsin

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, ignorance of the lawHazing, bullying done to people in order to initiate them into an organization, was once thought of as a bit of harmless fun that helped people build camaraderie. However, it has since become clear to state governments that hazing can actually have serious consequences, and can even result in the death of students when it gets out of hand. As a result, states, including Wisconsin, have passed laws criminalizing hazing. These laws take very different view of what qualifies as hazing and what the penalties can be. It is important for people in positions of authority to understand the Wisconsin law on hazing and the penalties that it imposes.

What Hazing Is

Although people may have an intuitive sense of what hazing is, people should understand the long list of actions that can qualify as hazing under Wisconsin's law. The law prohibits any act that intentionally or recklessly puts a student's physical well-being in danger in order to initiate them into an organization. The law also includes an extensive list of examples such as physical brutality like whipping or beating, forced consumption of substances like food or alcohol, or forced confinement. However, the list is merely a set of examples and the law may apply to more than just that conduct.

People in positions of authority in organizations should also note that the law specifies that a person's consent does not make the activity legal. This means that even if the person being hazed does so willingly, the hazing is still a crime under Wisconsin law. However, the consequences for that crime are not always the same.

The Consequences of Hazing

The consequences of hazing change drastically based on whether the person being hazed suffers an injury, as well as how severe that injury is. If the hazing “results or is likely to result,” in injury to someone, then it is a Class A misdemeanor. Those types of misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to nine months in prison. If the hazing causes “great bodily harm,” to someone, then the crime increases to a Class H felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the hazing causes someone's death, then the penalties for the crime increase again. It becomes a Class G felony. People convicted of Class G felonies may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $25,000.

Although the people who engage in hazing may think that it is all in good fun, the law imposes serious penalties on the reckless endangerment of others. If you or your child is being charged with a hazing offense, contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your options.
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