“Timothy J. Piazza’s Law” Signed by Gov. Murphy
Aug 27, 2021 | Written by: Share|
We have all heard stories about hazing at the hands of fraternities and sororities. Some of us have even experienced such while attending college. This conduct, however, not only affects college-age students but students of all ages, such as those who are part of sports teams or those who are simply trying to fit in with a group. The story of Timothy Piazza, a Hunterdon County, New Jersey resident who died tragically while attending Penn State University, has recently been in the headlines. Timothy Piazza died in 2017 following a fraternity hazing ritual. Unfortunately, it took the death of a student for harsher penalties to be implemented to deter this completely inappropriate conduct.
On August 24, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed S84/2093, better known as “Timothy J. Piazza’s Law,” which requires public and non-public middle schools and high schools, as well as higher education institutions, to adopt anti-hazing policies and penalties for violations of those policies. Under this new law, hazing will be upgraded from a fourth-degree crime to a third-degree crime if it results in death or serious bodily injury, and from a disorderly person’s offense to a fourth-degree crime if it results in bodily injury. Presently, a crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both; a crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both; and a disorderly persons offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. Under the new law, a student, fraternal organization, or institution of higher education that knowingly or recklessly promotes or facilitates a person to commit an act of hazing will be subject to a fine. The “Timothy J. Piazza’s Law” upgrades hazing and clarifies prohibited conduct that includes causing, coercing, or forcing consumption of alcohol or drugs. Pennsylvania has adopted a similar law called the “Timothy J. Piazza Anti Hazing Law.”
While many used to deem hazing a rite of passage, such conduct is improper, dangerous, and criminal. The goal is for individuals in school settings to be aware that Timothy J. Piazza’s Law exists, and that hazing will not be tolerated.