ASSEMBLY, No. 1814

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  CAROLINE CASAGRANDE

District 12 (Mercer and Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Revises the law concerning hazing; upgrades criminal penalties, provides certain immunities, creates civil offense and requires written policies.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning hazing and amending P.L.1980, c.169 and supplementing Title 2A and Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  Section 1 of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3) is amended to read as follows:

     1.  Hazing  a.  (1)  A person is guilty of hazing, a disorderly persons offense, if, in connection with initiation of applicants to or members of a student [or fraternal] organization, he knowingly or recklessly organizes, promotes, facilitates or engages in, or attempts or agrees to organize, promote, facilitate or engage in, any conduct, other than competitive athletic events under the direction of authorized personnel for the purposes associated with participation in team or individual sports, which places or may place another person in danger of bodily injury or which may adversely affect another person's mental health or dignity.

     b.  A person is guilty of aggravated hazing, a crime of the fourth degree, if he commits an act prohibited in subsection a. which results in significant bodily injury to another person.

     c.  A person is guilty of aggravated hazing, a crime of the [fourth] third degree, if he commits an act prohibited in subsection a. which results in serious bodily injury to another person.

     d.  As used in this section:

     "Educational institution" means a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school or a public or independent institution of higher education.

     "Student organization" means any fraternity, sorority, association, corporation, order, society, corps, club, team, gang or service, social, athletic, or similar group, whose members are primarily students or intend to be students.

     "Hazing" includes, but is not limited to, the following conduct:

     (1)  Any type of brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, striking, slapping, punching, branding or permanently marking, electronically shocking, altering any part of one's person, placing harmful or foreign substances in or on one's body or similar conduct;

     (2)  Any type of physical activity that subjects a person to an unreasonable risk of bodily injury or that adversely affects the mental or physical health, welfare or safety of the person such as sleep deprivation, exposure to elements, confinement in a small space, forced calisthenics or other similar conduct;


     (3)   Any activity involving the consumption of food, liquids, alcoholic beverages, controlled dangerous substances, drugs, tobacco products or other substances that may subject the person to an unreasonable risk of bodily injury or that adversely affect the mental or physical health, welfare or safety of the person;

     (4)   Any conduct that intimidates or threatens a person, or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave a student organization or an educational institution rather than submit to the conduct;

     (5)  Any act of sexual penetration or sexual contact as defined in N.J.S.2C:14-1 or the simulation of such an act, to be completed in front of another person, either in person or to be photographed, filmed, reproduced or reconstructed in any manner; or

     (6)  Any activity that induces, causes or requires the student to perform conduct that involves a violation of the criminal laws of any state.

     e.  When a student organization, or any member of a student organization, is convicted of an offense as defined in subsections a., b. or c., the court may request the educational institution to institute appropriate proceedings to dissolve the student organization or forfeit its charter at that educational institution.

(cf:  P.L.1980, c.169, s.1)

 

     2.  (New section)  Any person or health care facility that treats a student who may have been subjected to hazing as prohibited pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3) and that in good faith and without malicious purpose reports the suspected hazing to an educational institution or law enforcement official shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be imposed or incurred as a result of the report.  Any such person shall have the same immunity with respect to testimony given in any judicial proceeding concerning an act of hazing.

 

     3.  (New section)  a.  Any person who engages in conduct that constitutes hazing as prohibited pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3) commits a civil offense.

     b.  Any person who sustains injury to person or property as a result of a violation of subsection a. shall have a cause of action against the person or persons who committed the civil offense resulting in the injury.  In the case of a homicide committed in violation of subsection a. the estate of the deceased shall have a cause of action.  Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prevent the parent or legal guardian of a person who has sustained injury as a result of a violation of subsection a. from initiating a civil action on behalf of a minor child or ward.

     c.  Upon proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, of a defendant's violation of subsection a. of this section and of resulting damages, the defendant shall be liable as follows:

     (1)  To the person or persons injured, for an award in the amount of damages incurred as a result of the commission of the civil offense, including damages for any emotional distress suffered as a result of the civil offense, such punitive damages as may be assessed, and any reasonable attorney's fees and costs of suit incurred;

     (2)  Such injunctive relief as the court may deem necessary to avoid the defendant's continued violation of subsection a.; and

     (3) Any additional appropriate equitable relief, including restraints to avoid repeated violation.

     d.    The provisions of this section are intended to provide remedies independent of and in addition to those that may apply under the provisions of the "New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice."  The civil actions authorized by this section are available whether or not the conduct has been prosecuted as an offense under the provisions of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes and whether or not any such prosecution has resulted in a conviction.

     e.  In the event that the prosecution of the alleged hazing in violation of section 1 of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3) shall not have been brought to conclusion prior to the start of a civil action for damages pursuant to this section, the civil action for damages shall be stayed pending the final disposition of the criminal matter.  For the purposes of this section, the final disposition of the criminal matter shall mean the point at which the judgment is entered against one who is arrested for a criminal offense.

 

     4.  (New section)  Each public and independent institution of higher education shall adopt written policies on informing its students, including current and prospective members of student organizations and sports teams; administrators; coaches; faculty; staff; and volunteers; of the provisions of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3 et seq.) and P.L.    ,c.    (C.    ) (now pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The written policies shall include a requirement that information on hazing and the provisions of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3 et seq.) and P.L.    , c.    (C.   )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill) be provided, at a minimum, at the start of each school year and at the commencement of each new sports season.

 

     5.  (New section)  Each school district and each elementary and secondary nonpublic school shall adopt written policies on informing its students, including current and prospective members of student organizations and sports teams; administrators; coaches; faculty; staff; and volunteers; of the provisions of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3 et seq.) and P.L.    , c.     (C.     )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The written policies shall include a requirement that information on hazing and the provisions of P.L.1980, c.169 (C.2C:40-3 et seq.) and P.L.  , c.   (C.    )(now pending before the Legislature as this bill) be provided, at a minimum, at the start of each school year and at the commencement of each new sports season.

 

     6.  This act shall take effect on the 60th day after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill makes certain changes to the current law governing the criminal offense of hazing, requires written policies by schools, provides for certain immunities related to the reporting of hazing incidents and creates a civil offense.

     Under the bill, simple hazing remains a disorderly persons offense, but aggravated hazing has been upgraded to a crime of the fourth degree if it results in "significant" bodily injury and to a crime of the third degree if it results in "serious" bodily injury.

     The bill also clarifies that hazing includes conduct which may adversely affect another person's mental health or dignity and that the exception for athletic events applies only to events under the direction of authorized personnel for the purposes associated with participation in team or individual sports.

     The bill also defines hazing as including:  (1) any type of brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, striking, slapping, punching, branding or permanently marking, electronically shocking,  altering any part of one's person, placing harmful or foreign substances in or on one's body or similar conduct; (2) any type of physical activity that subjects a person to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the mental or physical health, welfare or safety of the person such as sleep deprivation, exposure to elements, confinement in a small space, forced calisthenics or other similar conduct; (3) any activity involving the consumption of food, liquids, alcoholic beverages, controlled dangerous substances, drugs, tobacco products or other substances that may subject the person to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affect the mental or physical health, welfare or safety of the person; (4) conduct that intimidates or threatens a person or discourages the student from entering or remaining registered in an educational institution, or that may reasonably be expected to cause a student to leave a student organization or an educational institution rather than submit to the conduct; (5) any act of sexual penetration or sexual contact or simulation of such act, to be completed in front of another person, either in person or to be photographed, filmed, reproduced or reconstructed in any manner; and (6) activity that induces, causes or requires the student to perform conduct that involves a violation of the criminal laws of any state.

     The bill also provides that when a student organization, or any member of a student organization, is convicted of a hazing offense, the court may request the educational institution to institute appropriate proceedings to dissolve the student organization or forfeit its charter at that educational institution.

     The bill grants immunity from civil and criminal prosecution to persons or health care facilities that report that they have treated a student who may have been the victim of hazing, unless the treating person acted in bad faith or with a malicious purpose.  This immunity extends to judicial proceedings.

     Another provision of the bill creates a civil offense for hazing.  This civil offense is modeled after the current civil offense found at N.J.S.A.2A:53A-21 et seq. for victims of bias crime.  Upon proof, by a preponderance of the evidence, of a violation and resulting damages, a defendant would be liable for:  an award in the amount of damages incurred as a result of the commission of the civil offense, including damages for any emotional distress suffered, punitive damages as may be assessed, and any reasonable attorney's fees and costs of suit incurred; injunctive relief as the court may deem necessary to avoid the continued hazing; and any additional appropriate equitable relief, including restraints to avoid repeated violation.

     Finally, the bill requires public and independent institutions of higher education, school districts and elementary and secondary nonpublic schools to adopt written policies on informing its students, including current and prospective members of student organizations and sport teams, as well as administrators, coaches, faculty, staff and volunteers of the provisions of this bill.  The written policies shall be provided, at a minimum, at the start of each school year and at the commencement of each new sports season.