Hazing in Virginia

Virginia, like most states, has a Hazing Law which makes hazing at any school, college or university against the law.

Teasing that was considered an all-in-good-fun rite of passage decades ago is now known to be hazing — dangerous and illegal.

Section 18.2-56 of the Code of Virginia provides the following:

“It shall be unlawful to haze, or otherwise mistreat so as to cause bodily injury, any student at any school, college, or university.

Any person found guilty thereof shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, unless the injury would be such as to constitute a felony, and in that event the punishment shall be inflicted as is otherwise provided by law for the punishment of such a felony.

Any person receiving bodily injury by hazing or mistreatment shall have a right to sue, civilly, the person or persons guilty thereof, whether adults or infants.

The president, or other presiding official of any school, college, or university, receiving appropriations from the State treasury shall, upon satisfactory proof of guilt of any student found guilty of hazing or mistreating another student so as to cause bodily injury, expel such student so found guilty, and shall make report thereof to the attorney for the Commonwealth of the county or city in which such school, college, or university is, who shall present the same to the grand jury of such city or county convened next after such report is made to him.”

That is why Virginia attorney Doug Landau and his wife Melissa were happy to receive a letter from their daughter’s school — College of William & Mary (W&M) in Williamsburg, VA — explaining the school’s campus-wide anti-hazing campaign.

Known as ‘My Tribe, My Responsibility: A Home Without Hazing,’ the campaign’s goal is to “empower all in [the W&M] community to recognize hazing in its various forms, to know what to do when they see hazing activity or experience it directly, and to feel confident in taking action”.

Hazing can lead to very serious consequences, as evidenced by 2010 case of two fraternity brothers who were found liable for the death of a freshman pledge who drowned in what was ultimately determined to be a case of hazing.

Landau commends the College of W&M for being proactive and responsible in preventing needless injury and tragic death.

In our next post, we will address the question What is Hazing?

If you or someone you know has been injured due in a hazing incident and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).

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