Florida Attorney Case Review – Sentencing Cap – College Band – FAMU Hazing

Florida A&M University, FAMU , Hazing,  782.07, 1006.63(2), Judge Marc Lubet, Jeff Ashton , Sentencing Cap,
Sentencing Cap – College Band
FAMU Hazing
Sentencing Cap in High Profile Case
Florida Criminal Attorney notes that in November 2013 an agreement that a potential Prison Sentence would be capped at 9 years in the high-profile Florida A&M University hazing case was apparently reached according to published reports. Notably, in July 2013, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Judge Marc Lubet “The Orange County judge presiding over the [Florida A&M University] FAMU hazing cases was unwilling Tuesday to cap at three years a possible prison sentence for an ex-band member charged with felony hazing and manslaughter in the death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion.” Here is an official copy of the 49 Page Arrest Warrant.
What is a Sentencing Cap?
Here is an example: While the maximum sentence in a second degree felony is 15 years and sentencing guidelines may call for a lengthy prison sentence, sometimes prosecutors agree with defense attorneys that a maximum sentence in a given case will be less that the statutory maximum. Generally judges will approve of these agreements. If the Judge does not approve of the agreement, then the case may be forced to trial.

A New York Times report states one band member “pleaded no contest to manslaughter on Wednesday and could become the first person to go to prison in the beating. The prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, described that band member as being “most consistently identified as the most enthusiastic” participant in the hazing ritual that killed the drum major, Robert Champion, in 2011. A plea deal calls for the band member to spend nine years in prison, though his lawyers can argue for less when a judge sentences him in February.”

Court Records show the band member charges as:

1. MANSLAUGHTHER (VOLUNTARY OR INVOLUNTARY) 782.07 2nd Degree – Felony

2. HAZING RESULTING IN DEATH 1006.63(2) 3rd Degree – Felony

Florida Statute Definition of Hazing

The Florida Statutes defines hazing as, “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.”

“It is not a defense to a charge of hazing that . . The consent of the victim had been obtained;”

Florida Law Penalties for Hazing

Third Degree Felony –  5 Years – serious bodily injury or death of such other person.

1st Degree Misdemeanor – 12 Months – Intentionally or recklessly substantial risk of physical injury or death.

University Definition of Hazing
The University now defines hazing as: “The term hazing shall include, but not be limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as striking in any manner, whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of food, liquor, drugs, or other substances, or other forced physical activities that would adversely affect the 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 contacts, forced conduct that would be demeaning or results in extreme embarrassment or any 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. For purposes of this section, any activity as described above, or 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 a university sanctioned organization, shall be presumed to be hazing and a “forced” activity, the willingness or consent of an individual to participate in such activity notwithstanding.”

Sample Florida Arrest Warrant

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