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NY Penal Law § 120.16: Hazing in the first degree

Hazing is typically associated with college sports teams, fraternities, and sororities. However, it also occurs with high school student organizations, as well as organizations that are not affiliated with an academic organization such as a street gang. In order for a person to gain membership into a group, the other members require that person to endure some sort of humiliating, abusive, degrading or harmful activity or ritual. In some cases this activity results in the injury or death of the person being hazed. Under New York Penal Code § 120.16 you could be prosecuted for hazing if during the course of a person's initiation into an organization you do something that intentionally or recklessly creates a substantial risk of physical injury to another person and that person does indeed such a physical injury. Hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor.


A man wanted to join a gang. The members told him that in order to join he had to be "jumped in." Five gang members beat up the man as a part of the jumping in process. As a result the man suffered broken ribs and several bruises all over his body. Another member of the gang filmed the jumping in. The video made its way to the police. Each person who beat up the man as well as the person who videotaped the jumping could be prosecuted for hazing in the first degree since their reckless and intentional actions caused physical injury.

Related Offenses
  1. Reckless endangerment in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 120.20
  2. Reckless endangerment in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 120.25

To be convicted of hazing in the first degree the prosecutor must show that the victim suffered a physical injury. New York Penal Code § 10.00(9) defines "physical injury" as an injury that results in a physical impairment or one that causes substantial physical pain. If the injury is very minor such as a scrape that requires a mere bandage, or a bruise that disappears in a few days, then such an injury would not fit the legal definition of physical injury.


Because hazing in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor if convicted you could spend up to a year in jail. It is also possible that the judge may sentence you to a probation term of 3 years. In addition, the judge may require that you pay a fine of up to $1,000.

New York Penal Code § 120.16: Hazing in the first degree

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.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

You may be inclined to think that hazing is not a big deal and that a misdemeanor conviction is also not a big deal. However, a misdemeanor conviction could send you to jail for a year. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with misdemeanors and felonies such as assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, menacing, reckless endangerment, stalking, rape, and child endangerment. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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