How much trouble can I get into for hazing in Mississippi?

Recently, 22 members of the Jackson State University Sonic Boom marching band were caught up in an investigation into alleged hazing of freshmen band members.  Ultimately they received varying degrees of punishment from JSU depending on their level of culpability, including getting kicked out of the band, community service, fines, classes, and suspensions. 

These were punishments that the university applied administratively, but know this: Mississippi is one of 42 states in which hazing has been defined as a crime.  Section 97-3-105 of the Mississippi Code Annotated is a very straightforward statute.  Read it yourself:

  1. A person is guilty of hazing in the first degree when, in the course of another person’s initiation into or affiliation with any organization, he intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury.
  2. Any person violating the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both.
  3. A person is guilty of hazing in the second degree when, in the course of another person’s initiation into or affiliation with any organization, he intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person.
  4. Any person violating the provisions of subsection (3) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00).
  5. The provisions of this section shall be in addition to other criminal laws, and actions taken pursuant to this section shall not bar prosecutions for other violations of criminal law.

So Mississippi recognizes two degrees of hazing, both classified as misdemeanors, depending on whether someone gets hurt or not.  Again, these are the criminal penalties that can be enforced by the state against you, but this does not necessarily stop the institution from punishing you administratively according to their disciplinary policy.

A recent academic study found that 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams, and organizations have experienced some form of hazing.  It is a wide-spread problem, with lasting consequences if you are convicted in court or punished by your school.  If you’ve been accused in a hazing incident, don’t make a rash decision without knowing your rights.  Give me a call for a free consultation.