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PC 245.6 Hazing Laws in California- IE-Criminal Defense

PC 245.6: Hazing

Legal Definition:  (a) It shall be unlawful to engage in hazing, as defined in this section.

(b) “Hazing” means any method of initiation or preinitiation into a student organization or student body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university, or other educational institution in this state. The term “hazing” does not include customary athletic events or school-sanctioned events.

To be found guilty under PC 245.6, the prosecution must prove that:

  1. You were involved in an activity that was part of an initiation into a student body or student organization;
  2. You knew or reasonably should have known that the activity was likely to cause serious bodily injury
  1. The activity was not part of any kind of customary school-sanctioned event or athletic event.

What does this mean?

It is important to note that a charge of causing great bodily injury does not require actual harm or suffering to the victim. Rather, it suffices to demonstrate that the activities engaged in were likely to result in serious bodily injury. Examples of serious bodily injury include concussions, loss of consciousness, and disfigurement. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that the definition of “students” is not limited solely to current students, but also encompasses prospective and former students.

Furthermore, the scope of what is considered a “school” under this provision is broad. In California, this encompasses the customary understanding of a school, as well as community colleges, universities, colleges, and any other educational institutions. It is crucial to understand that despite the prevalence of hazing in mainstream movies, engaging in such activities can constitute a criminal offense in California, depending on the nature of the actions.

As experienced legal professionals, it is our duty to inform you of the gravity of such charges. It is essential to consult with a trusted attorney for personalized guidance and assistance tailored to your specific circumstances.


A conviction under PC 245.6 is a wobbler offense, meaning you can be charged under this section as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depends on the specific facts of your case, your criminal history, your level of involvement in the hazing, and whether your hazing resulted in serious bodily injury. If you are convicted of this violation as a misdemeanor, you could serve up to one year in County Jail. You would be required to serve 50% of that time in custody. You could also be subject to fines from upwards of $100 to $5000 as well. If you are convicted under this section as a felony, you could be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, 2 or 3 years in State Prison. You would have to serve 50% of that time in custody.

You can also be subject to an additional, civil lawsuit by the victims after your criminal case. This could mean severe additional fines, involving actual damages suffered, emotional distress, which could include therapy.

This is not a strike offense under the California Three Strikes law, and it is not a Sex Offense under PC 290. If you are convicted of this charge as a felony, you could face a potential loss of your temporary Immigration status or loss of your Professional License.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Violation of Rights
  3. Insufficient Evidence

You can defend against this charge easily if you are able to show that what you were doing did not amount to the level of “hazing” as defined above. Also, if there is no risk of serious bodily harm, you could also argue for a reduction of your charges from a felony to a misdemeanor during your Preliminary Hearing under PC 17(b). Failing to show that you were not hazing another person, would show there is insufficient evidence to prove you guilty of PC 245.6.

An experienced and highly skilled Criminal Defense Attorney understands that false accusations can occur more frequently in the realm of Criminal Law than commonly perceived. Even when it comes to hazing incidents, where you may find yourself wrongfully blamed by others, your innocence can be fiercely advocated. Consider a hypothetical scenario where you are part of a Fraternity involved in hazing activities. Unbeknownst to you, you explicitly discourage such behavior and even caution your fraternity members against it. Unfortunately, while you are away, your fellow brothers proceed with the hazing, deliberately keeping you uninformed. As a result, your lack of knowledge absolves you from any guilt associated with the hazing. However, someone might wrongly assert your presence at the scene or accuse you of orchestrating the event, subjecting you to charges. Yet, with the guidance of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, you can confidently rebut these false allegations and ultimately seek the dismissal of your entire case. Rest assured, with their wealth of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, a competent attorney will fiercely defend your rights and safeguard your reputation.

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Being a student already comes with its challenges; facing a criminal charge only compounds them. Even minor transgressions, misinterpretations, or being at the receiving end of unfounded allegations can blemish an unblemished record. It’s a situation where the stakes are high, and the right legal representation can make all the difference.

At Inland Empire Defense, our Ontario PC 245.6 attorney specializes in tackling hazing-related offenses, particularly those falling under PC 245.6. With vast experience under our belt, we stand ready to offer a vigorous defense tailored to the unique nuances of student-related charges.

Entrust your case to professionals who understand both the legal and personal ramifications of student charges. Reach out to Inland Empire Defense at 909-281-0391. Located conveniently in Ontario, we’re here to ensure that your future remains as bright as it deserves to be.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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