New Law Makes Hazing a Felony in Pennsylvania | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC

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New Law Makes Hazing a Felony in Pennsylvania

In response to the death of a Penn State freshman, Pennsylvania has enacted a new anti-hazing law. Known as the “Timothy Piazza Anti-Hazing Law,” the new legislation raises the classification of fraternity hazing to a felony. Named for the student who died as a result of hazing in February 2017, the law increases the maximum penalty for fraternity hazing to seven years in prison. It also gives law enforcement officials additional rights when it comes to investigating houses where hazing offenses have occurred. Parents of other hazing victims have expressed approval of the new law, believing that it may save some students’ lives.

The increase in potential penalties for certain offenses makes having a good defense attorney all the more important. For criminal defense in the Pittsburgh area, your best bet is to contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC . Our lawyers have the legal experience necessary to defend you and your rights. We will work as a team with you to ensure that your case proceeds as smoothly as possible. A free case evaluation is a good way to determine if we can help you. Schedule yours by calling (412) 281-2146, or filling out the online contact form today.

New Law Places Pennsylvania Hazing Policy Among the Strictest

Previously, Florida was thought to have the strictest hazing legislation, among the states that have such policies. Under Florida law, hazing is also a felony. Pennsylvania’s new hazing legislation may be even stricter than Florida’s, however. This is due to some of the law’s language relating to houses where hazing takes place. In Pennsylvania, authorities will now be able to seize houses that are the subjects of hazing investigations. This places Pennsylvania’s hazing restrictions, and it’s enforcement of those restrictions, among the most severe.

Hazing Penalties Increased in Response to College Freshman’s Death

Timothy Piazza was 19 years old when he was participating in hazing activities at Penn State University. At the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, Piazza drunkenly fell several times, including twice down a flight of stairs. He eventually passed away from head and spleen injuries he suffered during those falls.

The lack of prompt medical attention played a role in Timothy’s death. According to authorities, fraternity brothers waited several hours to call for medical help. Fear could be a factor in this; the students let fear of possible legal trouble keep them from calling for help. To address this, the new law includes a “safe haven clause.” The clause protects fraternity members from being prosecuted if they call the police or emergency responders.

Some See Potential Issues With New Hazing Law

While many see the benefits in the new hazing legislation, there are those who think it is insufficient. The new statute requires prosecutors to prove that victims were forced or coerced into participating in hazing activities. There are those who feel that this will limit prosecutors in their abilities to being charges in less serious hazing cases. Concern has also been expressed that the law was crafted to quickly. While it is certainly a crack down on specific cases like Timothy’s, there is some belief that it’s scope is too narrow to affect real change.

Discuss Your Charges With an Experienced Hazing Lawyer Today

If your facing criminal charges, the most important choice you’ll make is hiring a defense lawyer. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC if you need help preparing a criminal defense in the Pittsburgh area. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, and understand what it takes to put together a winning defense. We know which details are important, and what makes it possible to reduce or drop charges. Decide if you want us on your team today; reach out through the online contact form or call (412) 281-2146 to schedule your free case evaluation.