Louisiana Enacts Strong Anti-Hazing Law

Posted on Jan 31, 2019 in Criminal Defense

In September 2017, LSU freshman Maxwell Gruver died with so much alcohol in his bloodstream that it was more than six times higher than Louisiana’s legal driving limit. Acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration was the official cause of death, but the real cause was the hazing by Gruver’s fraternity brothers.

Senseless deaths like Gruver’s and other high-profile hazing cases have led states across the country to adopt strict anti-hazing laws in an effort to stop such dangerous and abusive conduct. With Gov. John Bel Edwards signature on the Max Gruver Act on May 31, 2018, Louisiana joined at least 11 other states which have specifically criminalized hazing and imposed substantial penalties upon conviction.

What is Hazing?

Under the Act, hazing is now a felony offense in Louisiana. “Hazing” as defined in the law is “any intentional, knowing, or reckless act by a person acting alone or acting with others that is directed against another when:

  • The person knew or should have known that the act endangers the physical health or safety of the other person or causes severe emotional distress, and
  • The act was associated with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, participating in, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization.

Any of the following acts constitute hazing under Louisiana law:

  • Physical brutality, such as whipping, beating, paddling, striking, branding, electronic shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or similar activity.
  • Physical activity, such as sleep deprivation, exposure to the elements, confinement in a small space, or calisthenics, that subjects the other person to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the physical health or safety of the individual or causes severe emotional distress.
  • Activity involving consumption of food, liquid, or any other substance, including but not limited to an alcoholic beverage or drug, that subjects the individual to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the physical health or safety of the individual or causes severe emotional distress.
  • Activity that induces, causes, or requires an individual to perform a duty or task that involves the commission of a crime or an act of hazing.

It is irrelevant and not a defense to hazing charges that the person who was hazed consented or acquiesced in the conduct. Furthermore, hazing charges do not preclude alleged perpetrators from facing other charges for acts of hazing which are themselves criminal offenses, such as battery, false imprisonment, or harassment.

Penalties for Hazing in Louisiana

Even if no serious harm or injury results from the hazing, those convicted under the Act face severe penalties, including time behind bars.

Any person convicted of hazing in Louisiana will be either fined up to one thousand dollars, imprisoned for up to six months, or both. But if the hazing results in serious bodily injury or death or the hazing involves forced or coerced alcohol consumption that results in the victim having a blood alcohol concentration of at least 30 percent, a conviction can lead to fines of up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to five years.

Bloom Legal: New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or your child is facing hazing charges in New Orleans, please contact Bloom Legal, LLC at 504-599-9997 or contact us online now. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys are ready to zealously protect your rights, are available 24/7, and will work tirelessly to get the best possible result that will allow you to move forward with your life.

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