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Accused Of Hazing? Now What?

By April 8, 2024April 10th, 2024No Comments

Penn State. LSU. Texas State. Wheaton. Clemson. University of Nevada. California State. West Virginia. Baruch. University at Albany. Michigan State University.

What do these schools all have in common? Unfortunately, it’s not athletic achievements or even academic accolades. Over the years, students have died or suffered serious injuries from participating in hazing incidents at every university listed above. And these universities are not the only ones who have had such tragic hazing incidents.

Deadly hazing events like these are becoming more and more publicized in the media today, and because of this, schools across the country are taking measures to crack down on hazing activities in hopes of preventing future hazing accidents that result in injury or death. Members and national organizations are being held accountable for their actions, even if the resulting death or injury of a hazing incident was accidental.

In this blog, our team at DC Student Defense breaks down the potential legal consequences of hazing allegations and what to do if you’ve been accused of hazing. 

Potential Legal Consequences of Hazing Allegations

As hazing-related deaths have surged across the nation, colleges and universities are taking hazing allegations more seriously than ever. Potential legal consequences of hazing allegations are serious and can include any, if not multiple, of the following: 

  • Sanctions for an individual member or the organization as a whole;
  • Charter loss for the organization on the university’s campus;
  • College disciplinary sanctions for individual students, such as suspension or expulsion;
  • Criminal charges resulting in penalties ranging from fines to lengthy jail time.

After the accidental death of fraternity member Chun “Michael” Deng in 2013, the national fraternity and several fraternity members suffered serious ramifications. 

Pi Delta Psi Inc. was initially banned from the entire state of Pennsylvania for 10 years and was given a hefty fine of $112,500 after being found guilty of felony involuntary manslaughter and assault. However, according to ABC News, the 10-year ban was later overturned on appeal, so Pi Delta Psi is allowed to operate in Pennsylvania. The Deng family settled lawsuits against the national fraternity organization, the local fraternity chapter and five fraternity members, Fierberg said, though he would not discuss the terms of the settlement.

Wheaton College found itself in a similar situation in 2017 when a hazing incident resulted in the severe injury of a freshman football player by his teammates. 

Five Wheaton College football players were charged by prosecutors with aggravated battery, mob action, and unlawful restraint. The case concluded as one pled to attempted unlawful restraint, one pled to disorderly conduct, and three have pled to misdemeanor battery charges., as the remaining player awaits trial. While the players have had the opportunity to plead to lesser charges, these charges are still serious and are not something a college student should want on his or her record.

Most recently, Phat Nguyen, a Michigan State University (MSU) student, died from alcohol intoxication in 2021 at a fraternity pledging event. The case is ongoing, but according to State News, Nguyen’s family is suing 18 individuals for their alleged involvement. 

Immediately following the tragedy, the MSU chapter of Pi Alpha Phi was placed on suspension, and shortly after, the chapter was abandoned for at least 10 years. 

Contact a Student Defense Lawyer in Washington, DC

As you can see, if you have been accused of hazing, or are part of a fraternity, sorority, or other organization that has been accused of hazing, or crimes related to hazing, the consequences can get rather serious. 

While accidents may happen, the fallout can get messy fairly quickly without proper representation. It is crucial that you contact an attorney experienced with defending clients against both hazing violations in university disciplinary systems and hazing-related charges in criminal courts. 

DC Student Defense lawyers have experience practicing and litigating in both the criminal defense system and university disciplinary systems, and they are experienced in guiding students and their families through singular or parallel proceedings, allowing for minimum stress and disruption to the student’s education.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

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