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One of the first things that comes to mind when people think about fraternities is hazing. Seen as a right of passage by many, the dark truth is that this type of behavior too often crosses into dangerous abuse. 

Since 2000, there have been 100 confirmed hazing-related deaths in the United States, which is why hazing laws are so important. Following the 2018 death of Collin Wiant, in addition to several other students as well, Ohio has become the 11th state in the nation to make hazing a felony.With years of experience in cases across the U.S., the Ohio-based hazing lawyers at Cooper Elliott are dedicated to bringing accountability to those who cause harm and justice to your case.

What is Collin’s Law – Ohio’s hazing law?

Collin Wiant was an 18-year-old freshman who was attending Ohio University. At an off campus fraternity annex house, he was pressured by members of the Sigma Pi fraternity to inhale a canister of nitrous oxide. Unfortunately, due to the fraternity brothers’ delay in calling 911, Collin did not make it that night. He passed away shortly after.

Our team of hazing attorneys at Cooper Elliott represented Collin’s family and worked to get Governor Mike DeWine to sign Collin’s Law into effect on October 7, 2021. 

The law broadens both the definition of hazing and who is considered liable. It also gives stricter requirements to educational institutions to provide education on hazing, prevent hazing, and report any hazing incidents. This law applies to all higher education institutions.

This law requires institutions to report any violations and have the reports for the past 5 years available on their website.

The reports must include:

  • Name and subject on the report
  • The date that the individual was charged with a violation of the hazing law
  • Description of the violation and the results of the investigation, including penalties
  • The date that it was resolved

In accordance with the law, penalties for hazing in Ohio now include:

  • Fines
  • Withholding of transcripts and diplomas until compliance with the rules and/or fine payments are made
  • Revocation of permission for sororities and fraternities to operate on campus
  • Probation, suspension, dismissal, and/or expulsion

Do People Charged with Hazing in Ohio Face Prison Time?

Under Collin’s Law, the penalties for being legally charged with hazing are harsher. 

General hazing is now classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. If the hazing incidents involve alcohol or drugs, the charges are increased to a third-degree felony.

In the state of Ohio, those that are convicted of second-degree misdemeanor face a sentence of 60 days, with fines up to $500. For the more serious third-degree felonies, individuals face a sentence between 9 and 36 months, with fines up to $10,000.

Additionally, Collin’s Law holds people who know about hazing accountable for their actions. If someone is aware of a hazing offense that involves physical harm and does not report it, they face a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The sentence can include up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 in fines.

What Happens in an Ohio Hazing Lawsuit?

When a loved one is injured or dies as a result of hazing, families are faced with difficult questions and emotions as well as immediate challenges. What happened? How did it happen?At Cooper Elliott, our team of attorneys steps in and immediately starts working to get answers so that you and your family can focus on healing. We work quickly to investigate and identify all responsible parties–from the active members, to the national organizations, to the colleges or universities who allowed the organization on their campus–so they can all be held accountable.

Cooper Elliott Can Help with Your Columbus, Ohio Hazing Case

If you or a loved one have been the victim of hazing in Ohio or elsewhere, Cooper Elliott is here to help. You deserve justice, and we want to help you get it. Contact us today for a consultation for your hazing case.