COVID-19 Update: We are open and serving our clients. Learn More >>>
Member of:
Justia Lawyer Rating
American Association for Justice
Union Plus

NY Penal Law § 120.17: Hazing in the second degree

Hazing is used by various types of organizations to initiate new members. Unfortunately, hazing has been associated with death and physical injury. College fraternities and sororities have hazed prospective members for decades. College sports teams, high school clubs and street gangs also haze new members. There are two statutes in the New York Penal Code related to hazing: hazing in the first degree and hazing in the second degree. Under New York Penal Code § 120.17 you would have committed hazing in the second degree 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. Hazing in the first degree is a violation.


During a sorority initiation ceremony, 3 pledges were made to get into a vehicle. The car was driven by a member of the sorority. Another member sat in the backseat in between 2 pledges. As the car traveled along a busy street, the sorority member in the back seat opened the car door and started to push one of the pledges out. The pledge screamed and held on to the opened door for 2 blocks. The sorority member eventually pulled the pledge back into the car. Both of the members of the sorority who were in the car could be prosecuted for hazing in the second degree, as their actions were reckless and put the pledge at risk of 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

If you can show that your actions while seemingly risky, could not have caused harm to another person, then you did not commit hazing in the second degree. For example, if you point a toy gun at a group of pledges and pull the trigger, no reckless conduct occurred as the gun could not have caused injury.


Because hazing in the second degree is a violation if you violate New York Penal Code § 120.17 you could be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. However, since it is not a crime a conviction will not go on your criminal record.

New York Penal Code § 120.17: Hazing in the second degree

A person is guilty of hazing in the second degree when, in the course of another person`s initiation 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.

The Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help

You may be inclined to think that hazing is not serious and that a violation is also not a big deal. However, even 15 days in the county jail is something to avoid. 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.

Client Reviews
My wife and I met under some unconventional circumstances. After I had some legal problems, Mr Bilkis and his firm continually got me out of trouble. I then had his firm represented my wife and he got her out of trouble! We are still married and got our ways straightened away. We both can't thank him enough for saving our lives and our families! J.P.
I contacted Stephen Bilkis' office for an issue regarding a family member and I could not be happier with the results. I have recommended the firm to friends and family, all of whom were also ecstatic with Mr. Bilkis and all members of his staff. P.R.
I was in need of legal assistance for a very sensitive matter for a family member. I contacted the law offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC and was met with staff whose demeanor was supportive, compassionate and professional. The lawyer handling our case had many years of experience and treated us as if we were his own family. Our experience was so good, and we became so close to all of the staff and all of the attorneys who assisted us, that we consider them our extended family and continue to send them our home baked gifts for the holidays. P.A.K.
I hired Stephen Bilkis and Associates to represent me on a legal matter a few months ago and am grateful for their swift action and resolution on my behalf. I was impressed with their professionalism and would recommend them to friends and family in a heartbeat. M.B.