Hazy laws are not the same across the United States

Hayes contributes to college deaths across the United States, but the punishments vary and can lead to further broken hearts for already sad families.

It’s a story that too many sad families are tired of hearing: a young man enthusiastically starting college dies during a fraternity event. Some of these deadly stories have led to haze in colleges across the United States.

A 2008 survey We found that 55% of college students face some form of haze, to varying degrees. However, the legal consequences of haze are often unknown.


Are the hazy laws the same across the country?

Source of information

  • Jack Campbell, Leon County Prosecutor, Florida
  • Doug Fearberg, a lawyer specializing in hazy cases
  • David Bianchi, a lawyer specializing in hazy cases
  • Franklin University Professor Hank Nuwer
  • Dr. Elizabeth Allan, Principal of Stop Hazing, a haze prevention organization
  • Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins
  • Judson Hollas, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American Interfratanity Conference
  • Parents of Sam Martinez, Andrew Coffey, Collin Wiant


No, the hazy laws are not the same across the country. As a result, neither is a punishment for participants.

What we found

On November 11, 2019, 19-year-old Sam Martinez, a freshman at Washington State University, appeared at the Alpha Tau Omega Friendship Hall for a pledge event.

“They were forced to pull out half a gallon of rum,” said Sam’s mother, Jorrain Houtz. “That night, all the boys got so drunk that Sam died on his watch.”

The next morning, Sam was found unresponsive in the basement of the flat house. His blood alcohol level was almost five times the legal limit.

In June of this year, more than a year and a half after Sam’s death, 15 members of his fraternity were charged with supplying alcohol to a minor, a terrible misdemeanor. The indictment can be sentenced to up to one year in prison, but due to the lack of criminal records, lawyers confirm that these young men may not be sentenced to one day in prison.

“I think it’s more likely than it isn’t [they won’t go to jail]”Jorrain Houtz said. “I was sad and indignant.”

In Washington Haze prevention law, But it’s even cheaper than serving alcohol to minors. Kasumi is a standard misdemeanor, just like if someone stole your shopping cart.

Sam’s parents still wanted 15 fraternity members accused of being hazy.

“That’s what happened to our son,” said Jorrain Martinez. “And I think the record should reflect that.”

Police in Pullman, Washington, where Washington State University is located, said they had enough evidence to prove that they were hazy, but wanted to pursue a felony manslaughter. By the time they completed the investigation, the one-year statute of limitations for haze had expired.

Gary Jenkins, police chief of Pullman, told Verify that the investigation would look different if the haze was a felony in Washington.

“In this case, there could be ugly charges against one or more individuals,” said Jenkins.

Sam’s father called the result a “slap.”

“I don’t like it going that way,” said Hector Martinez. “It’s not justice.”

In other states, hazy surveys can look quite different.

In 2017, Florida State University student Andrew Coffey died of alcoholism during his fraternity pledge event.

“Part of the tradition was to consume a bottle of alcohol to show their commitment to loyalty and fraternity, and that was what killed him,” said his mother, Sandicoffie. It was. “It was hazy. I don’t know what else I called it.”

In florida, Kasumi is a felony and can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. The prosecutor has filed a felony charge against nine members of Andrew’s fraternity. All nine pleaded guilty. According to prosecutor Jack Campbell, two are felony and seven are misdemeanor. He says they will all be sentenced between 30 days and a year.

“This is very unusual,” said Campbell, a state lawyer in Leon County, Florida, about the results. “I can speculate that the possibility of prison sanctions for up to five years was factored into their decision to take responsibility, go to jail and publicly acknowledge their responsibility for Andrew’s death. “

To Sandy Coffey, it’s like justice.

“It’s not enough because it doesn’t bring Andrew back to us, but it’s correct,” Coffey said.

Florida is one of the 14 states that have passed the Felony Declaration Act. Hayes is a misdemeanor in 30 states, including Washington. And six states don’t have anti-haze laws in their books.

“I think it’s fraudulent,” said lawyer Doug Fearberg. He specializes in hazy cases and now represents Sam Martinez’s family.

“It has always been that’boys are boys’,” Fearberg said. “These are real cheating that need to be properly prosecuted.”

Professor Hank Nuwer of Franklin College truck Hazy death in the United States. He says the country has averaged nearly five each year for the past decade.

When asked if the haze seemed to be slowing, he told VERIFY, “No, it’s not.”

Organizers are currently trying to pass felony filing laws in several states.

Ohio legislators passed a felony filing law last week. The governor will sign the law in early July.

Kathleen Wiant led the effort in Ohio. In 2018, her son Colin died at his friendship home at Ohio University.

“He was forced to do a whip pit, which is laughing gas-like nitrous oxide,” said Kathleen Wiant. “And when he inhaled it, he collapsed immediately. There is a 12 minute delay before the 911 is called.”

Nine members of his group were charged with haze of misdemeanor. Wiant says none of them spent more than 30 days in prison.

“It really just hit my wrist,” she said.

As is known, “Colin’s Law” will commit a felony in Ohio if someone is seriously injured or killed. In addition, it will require haze prevention education and will force schools to better report haze incidents.

Kathleen tried to get it through last year. After that, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred.

“My fear was that if I didn’t get over it at that point, another hazy death would occur in Ohio,” she said. “And just a few months later, there was another horrific tragedy.”

In March, 20-year-old Stone Foltz died during a fraternity pledge event at Bowling Green State University. The prosecutor has charged eight of his classmates.

So far, these felony filing laws have been passed almost unanimously upon reaching the state legislature. VERIFY could not find organized opposition.

Judson Horras is the President and CEO of the North American Fraternity Conference, which represents approximately 6,000 fraternity branches nationwide. The organization not only supports these felony filing laws, but also supports efforts to pass them.

“I think we lack personal accountability,” Horas said. “Like the drunk driving law, we need to strengthen the law to make such a haze difference.”

The felony filing law is only part of the growing anti-declaration movement.

The organization is working on two federal laws- REACH method And that End all hazy acts -You need to be more transparent from school.

Attorney David Bianchi specializes in hazing proceedings and helped develop several hazing prevention laws, including Florida. However, he says that the felony filing law alone does not stop felony filing.

“Universities need to take a tougher position,” Bianchi said.

He proposes that the school expel the entire leadership of the Fraternity Branch in the face of a serious haze incident.

“Even if you were in the library when that happened,” he said. “You can be confident that officers are everywhere in this, and they will make sure it doesn’t happen because it ruins their education. And these guys There will be tremendous pressure to be tolerated by parents, just as he did not. “

Last year, 2020 was the first ever hazy death recorded since 1959, according to a study by Professor Nuwer. However, COVID-19 suppressed much of college life.

“What’s coming this fall? Two freshman classes are valid,” Nuwer said. As a result, he believes this year may be a hazy but dangerous grade.

Jolayne Houtz and Hector Martinez are currently seeking a felony filing law from Washington. They hope that one day it will become part of Sam’s legacy.

“I’m thinking of saving one life every day,” said Jolayne Houtz. “We have picked up the most important thing from us. The best I can hope for Sam is to prevent it from happening to other families.”

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Hazy laws are not the same across the United States

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