Local attorney: No such thing as 'consent' in hazing cases

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 17, 2018

(Image Source: MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida law bans hazing at colleges, specifically addressing "recklessly endangering" a student's "physical health or safety." The law also includes "pressuring or coercing the student" into consuming liquor.

The law clearly states a student's "consent" cannot be used as a defense. The legislature changed the law in 2005 to take consent out of consideration. Saying someone willingly participated no longer holds up in court.

Local attorney Chuck Hobbs was on the defense team in Florida's first case tried under the new hazing law in 2006. He says taking consent out of the law makes hazing charges harder to defend.

"It's going to be very difficult for defense counsel to be able to say, hey, no one forced him to drink. The onus will still be upon the leadership of the fraternity and the individuals who provided the alcohol; to be able to explain something other than, he wanted to do it," Hobbs said.

Because consent is not an available defense, Hobbs says he anticipates defense attorneys representing clients charged in the death of Florida State University pledge Andrew Coffey will try to be the first one to come forward to get a plea deal for their client.

He says he's seen that course of action happen many times in past hazing cases.

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