Archive for May, 2012

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Hazing in Florida

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Hazing in Florida can be a very serious matter, especially when it results in death.  Much attention has been brought to hazing since the death of Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major, in late 2011.  Just recently, the Orange County State Attorney’s Office announced they are charging 13 individuals in connection with his death.  With the spotlight now being turned upon their criminal prosecution, many people are unfamiliar with the criminal elements of hazing.

Most simply put, there are several different versions of the hazing law, depending upon the grade of the student(s).  Here is a list detailing the different versions of hazing:

Since the FAMU case deals with the collegiate level, this post will focus on postsecondary hazing, (Fla. Stat. 1006.63):

The postsecondary hazing statutes reads:

1006.63 Hazing prohibited.—

(1) As used in this section, “hazing” means any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.

(2) A person commits hazing, a third degree felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.775.083, when he or she intentionally or recklessly commits any act of hazing as defined in subsection (1) upon another person who is a member of or an applicant to any type of student organization and the hazing results in serious bodily injury or death of such other person.

(3) A person commits hazing, a first degree misdemeanor, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083, when he or she intentionally or recklessly commits any act of hazing as defined in subsection (1) upon another person who is a member of or an applicant to any type of student organization and the hazing creates a substantial risk of physical injury or death to such other person.

(4) As a condition of any sentence imposed pursuant to subsection (2) or subsection (3), the court shall order the defendant to attend and complete a 4-hour hazing education course and may also impose a condition of drug or alcohol probation.

(5) It is not a defense to a charge of hazing that:

(a) The consent of the victim had been obtained;

(b) The conduct or activity that resulted in the death or injury of a person was not part of an official organizational event or was not otherwise sanctioned or approved by the organization; or

(c) The conduct or activity that resulted in death or injury of the person was not done as a condition of membership to an organization.

(6) This section shall not be construed to preclude prosecution for a more general offense resulting from the same criminal transaction or episode.

(7) Public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions whose students receive state student financial assistance must adopt a written antihazing policy and under such policy must adopt rules prohibiting students or other persons associated with any student organization from engaging in hazing.

(8) Public and nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions must provide a program for the enforcement of such rules and must adopt appropriate penalties for violations of such rules, to be administered by the person at the institution responsible for the sanctioning of such organizations.

(a) Such penalties at Florida College System institutions and state universities may include the imposition of fines; the withholding of diplomas or transcripts pending compliance with the rules or pending payment of fines; and the imposition of probation, suspension, or dismissal.

(b) In the case of an organization at a Florida College System institution or state university that authorizes hazing in blatant disregard of such rules, penalties may also include rescission of permission for that organization to operate on campus property or to otherwise operate under the sanction of the institution.

(c) All penalties imposed under the authority of this subsection shall be in addition to any penalty imposed for violation of any of the criminal laws of this state or for violation of any other rule of the institution to which the violator may be subject.

(9) Rules adopted pursuant hereto shall apply to acts conducted on or off campus whenever such acts are deemed to constitute hazing.

(10) Upon approval of the antihazing policy of a Florida College System institution or state university and of the rules and penalties adopted pursuant thereto, the institution shall provide a copy of such policy, rules, and penalties to each student enrolled in that institution and shall require the inclusion of such policy, rules, and penalties in the bylaws of every organization operating under the sanction of the institution.

To read the history of Florida’s hazing law, click here.

(This post is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)

~At Matthews Law Firm, P.A., we represent criminal defendants in central Florida, including Lakeland, Bartow, Winter Haven, Orlando, Tampa and Sarasota.~

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No Valid Driver’s License

Friday, May 4th, 2012

In Florida, the crime of No Valid Driver’s License is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, meaning it is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or $500 fine.  Unlike other more serious driving charges like DUI or Driving on a Suspended License, the charge of No Valid DL cannot be used to make the driver an habitual traffic offender (HTO).

The statute for No Valid Driver’s License is found at 322.03 and reads:

322.03 Drivers must be licensed; penalties.—

(1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has a valid driver’s license issued under this chapter.

(a) A person who drives a commercial motor vehicle may not receive a driver’s license unless and until he or she surrenders to the department all driver’s licenses in his or her possession issued to him or her by any other jurisdiction or makes an affidavit that he or she does not possess a driver’s license. Any such person who fails to surrender such licenses commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable as a moving violation as set forth in chapter 318. Any such person who makes a false affidavit concerning such licenses commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(b) All surrendered licenses may be returned by the department to the issuing jurisdiction together with information that the licensee is now licensed in a new jurisdiction or may be destroyed by the department, which shall notify the issuing jurisdiction of such destruction. A person may not have more than one valid driver’s license at any time.

(c) Part-time residents of this state issued a license that is valid within this state only under paragraph (b) as that paragraph existed before November 1, 2009, may continue to hold such license until the next issuance of a Florida driver’s license or identification card. Licenses that are identified as “Valid in Florida Only” may not be issued or renewed effective November 1, 2009. This paragraph expires June 30, 2017.

(2) Prior to issuing a driver’s license, the department shall require any person who has been convicted two or more times of a violation of s. 316.193 or of a substantially similar alcohol-related or drug-related offense outside this state within the preceding 5 years, or who has been convicted of three or more such offenses within the preceding 10 years, to present proof of successful completion of or enrollment in a department-approved substance abuse education course. If the person fails to complete such education course within 90 days after issuance, the department shall cancel the license. Further, prior to issuing the driver’s license the department shall require such person to present proof of financial responsibility as provided in s. 324.031. For the purposes of this paragraph, a previous conviction for violation of former s. 316.028, former s. 316.1931, or former s. 860.01 shall be considered a previous conviction for violation of s. 316.193.

(3)(a) The department may not issue a commercial driver’s license to any person who is not a resident of this state.

(b) A resident of this state who is required by the laws of this state to possess a commercial driver’s license may not operate a commercial motor vehicle in this state unless he or she possesses a valid commercial driver’s license issued by this state. Except as provided in paragraph (c), any person who violates this paragraph is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(c) Any person whose commercial driver’s license has been expired for a period of 30 days or less and who drives a commercial motor vehicle within this state is guilty of a nonmoving violation, punishable as provided in s. 318.18.

(4) A person may not operate a motorcycle unless he or she holds a driver’s license that authorizes such operation, subject to the appropriate restrictions and endorsements.

(5) It is a violation of this section for any person whose driver’s license has been expired for more than 6 months to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this state.

(6) A person who is charged with a violation of this section, other than a violation of paragraph (a) of subsection (1), may not be convicted if, prior to or at the time of his or her court or hearing appearance, the person produces in court or to the clerk of the court in which the charge is pending a driver’s license issued to him or her and valid at the time of his or her arrest. The clerk of the court is authorized to dismiss such case at any time prior to the defendant’s appearance in court. The clerk of the court may assess a fee of $5 for dismissing the case under this subsection.

 

(*This post is not intended as legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.)

~At Matthews Law Firm, P.A., we represent criminal defense clients in the central Florida region, including Lakeland, Bartow, Winter Haven, Orlando, Tampa and Sarasota.~

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