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South Carolina’s Hazing Law

People have been hazing for a long time; it’s often associated with college fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, and other high school and college teams and organizations. HazingPrevention.Org™ defines hazing as, “...any action taken or any situation created intentionally that causes embarrassment, harassment or ridicule and risks emotional and/or physical harm to members of a group or team, whether new or not, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate.”

Some examples of hazing include:

  • Forcing someone to consume large amounts of alcohol.
  • Forcing someone to take illegal drugs.
  • Forcing someone to consume odd foods or substances, for example, forcing them to eat spicy foods, or swallow bugs, worms, or goldfish.
  • Humiliating a potential member or “pledge.”
  • Forcing someone to undress or be naked in front of others.
  • Beating a potential member.
  • Physical abuse against a potential member.
  • Requiring the member to engage in unwanted sexual behavior.
  • Requiring the member to commit an illegal act, such as vandalism, assault, or theft.

Hazing is Illegal in South Carolina

Most states have enacted anti-hazing laws. In South Carolina, hazing is criminalized under Section 16-3-510 of the South Carolina Code of Laws Unannotated. Under Sec. 16-3-510, it reads: “It is unlawful for a person to intentionally or recklessly engage in acts which have a foreseeable potential for causing physical harm to a person for the purpose of initiation or admission with a chartered or nonchartered student, fraternal, or sororal organization.”

It is also illegal for anyone to:

  • Knowingly permit hazing,
  • Assist anyone in hazing, or
  • Fail to promptly report hazing to the CEO of the appropriate college, university, or school.

Anyone who violates South Carolina’s hazing law commits a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500, or by up to 12 months in jail, or both a fine and imprisonment.

Have you, or your son or daughter been charged with the crime of hazing? If so, contact Masella Law Firm, meet with a Columbia criminal defense lawyer.