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New York Penal Code 120.16: Hazing in the first degree

By Spodek Law Group | May 2, 2017
(Last Updated On: July 26, 2023)

Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 10:54 pm

Hazing is a crime associated with college sports teams, sororities, and fraternities. However, this crime can occur with the high school student organizations and any other non-academic agencies such as the street gangs. For you to be inducted as a member of that group you must endure some humiliation, degradation, abuse, ritual, or harmful activity. In some cases, these activities may result in serious injuries or death of the hazed person. Under the New York penal code 120:16, you can face serious prosecution if you do anything that recklessly creates a risk to cause a serious injury or anything intentional to make them lose their lives. First-degree hazing is a misdemeanor.

A person can be said to be guilty of the first-degree hazing when he intentionally causes physical injuries to a person who is being initiated by an organization.

A man was very eager to join a gang. During that time, you must do something for you to gain membership in the gang. For this reason, the gang members told him to be jumped in to be a member. Five gang members beat up the man as a result of jumping. The man suffered broken rubs and several bruises all over the body. The police attained the video. Anyone who beat up the man, as well as the videographer, could all be prosecuted for first-degree hazing since their intentional and reckless action caused the physical injury.

Related offenses
1. First-degree reckless endangerment: New York Penal Code 120:25
2. Second-degree reckless endangerment: New York Penal Code 120:20

For you to be convicted of the first-degree hazing offense, the prosecutor must provide the necessary evidence that the person suffered great physical injury. Physical injury, as defined in the New York Penal Code, is an injury that causes substantial pain and results in physical impairment. If you have a minor injury that requires a mere bandage, then such an injury does not fit to justify the legal implications of charges.

Because the first-degree hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, you are required to face a one-year jail term at a county-level correctional facility if convicted. It is also possible that you may face a three-year jail probation sentence from the judge. Also, you will be required to pay a fine of more than $1,000 by the judge.

New York Penal Code 120.16: Hazing in the first degree
A person will be considered as guilty for the first-degree hazing offense when:
1. In the course of another person’s affiliation or initiation with an organization or group, he recklessly or intentionally engages in conduct that creates substantial risk of death or physical injury to a third person or another person. For this reason, you must have inflicted the physical injury to the person or any other third person.

The NYC Criminal Attorneys Law Firm
For most people, they might think that hazing is part of these less serious crimes committed. However, this is a criminal offense and can attract a great deal of punishment concerning the jail term. For this reason, you must think out of the box and get your fate determined through the help of an experienced legal representative. A first-degree hazing can attract a jail term of not less than one year being a misdemeanor conviction. The staff at nyc criminal attorneys Law Firm has one of the most experienced legal representatives, who have represented their clients in numerous New York criminal court cases concerning firs-degree assault, rape, stalking, reckless endangerment, menacing, and child endangerment. You can contact us to schedule a free consultation session with our team of experienced legal representatives in New York.

New York Penal Code 120.17: Hazing in the second degree

Hazing is a dangerous activity that’s widely used by not only gangs but schools, clubs, and groups as a form of initiation for new members. It’s dangerous, and it’s often deadly to those who engage in this type of behavior. Hazing in the second degree is not a criminal offense or a felony, but it is against the law. Those who are found guilty of hazing are sentenced to up to 15 days in jail for their actions. New York law requires all nyc criminal attorneys find proof that the person accused of being involved in hazing did not intentionally cause harm or put someone in harm’s way to find them innocent.

Hazing in the second degree is any act that intentionally increases the risk of or creates the risk of serious physical injury to another person. It is commonly found in gang initiations, sports, and even fraternities or sororities. It’s very much illegal, but it must be proven that the person involved in the act was intentionally put in the way of harm and the risk of physical injury before they are found guilty. Hazing in the first degree is a different situation, and it’s not one that is considered when a second degree crime is committed.

Examples of Hazing in the Second Degree

What makes this crime difficult to understand completely is the complexity of defining danger. There is no law that states a person must be physically injured to be a victim of hazing. As long as there was a risk of being injured and someone else is responsible for placing someone in that place of danger, there is a chance they committed this crime. One example would be when a football player decides to initiate a new player by taking him to the local railroad track with a blindfold on his eyes.

The football player might not have any intention of allowing the new player to become injured at all. He only wants to put him blindfolded on the tracks as a scare tactic. He will leave him there long enough to hear a train coming and feel the tracks begin to move before taking him off long before the train arrives. The new player was not injured or hurt in the incident, but the potential for serious harm or even death if he’d been a moment too late or gotten stuck on the tracks is imminent. The player who put him on the tracks will be charged with hazing in the second degree for putting this other young man’s life on the line.


There are many defenses you can use in a situation like this, and a NYC criminal attorney can help you get through the charges if you can prove no real danger was caused to the person who is accusing you of hazing. To use the above example, if the football player put the new player on tracks he knew were closed down and unable to support a train, he did not put the player in danger at all.

Another example of a good defense is using a fake weapon to scare someone new on a team or in a club. The weapon might scare them and make them feel as if their life is in danger, but it cannot cause harm. This means it cannot be used as a way of harming anyone, and the person who used it will not be charged with hazing in the second degree. While reckless and unintelligent, there is no way this is dangerous. There will be no charges brought against anyone in this situation.

First-degree hazing is a criminal offense under New York Penal Code 120.16. It occurs when a person intentionally causes physical injuries to someone being initiated into an organization or group. This crime is often associated with college sports teams, fraternities, and sororities, but it can also occur in high school student organizations and other non-academic agencies like street gangs. If convicted of first-degree hazing, a person can face a one-year jail term and may be required to pay a fine of more than $1,000. A possible defense against such a charge includes proving that the injuries sustained were minor and did not result in significant pain or physical impairment.

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