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Fraternity members sentenced to probation for hazing death

Defending college student crimes does not involve only challenging factual allegations. At times, a plea negotiation is the most reasonable option and may lower the severity of a criminal conviction and sentence.

Late last month, 14 former fraternity members pled guilty to reduced criminal charges for the 2013 hazing initiation death of an 18-year-old New York college freshman from Manhattan's Baruch College in Dec. 2013 in the Poconos Mountains. The victim died from head injuries suffered in a fraternity hazing at a rented home in the Poconos.

The 14 defendants pled guilty to misdemeanor charges that included hindering apprehension, simple assault, hazing and conspiracy in the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas. These charges were reduced from felony offenses such as hindering apprehension. One day earlier, 15 other former fraternity members of Pi Delta Psi agreed to similar plea bargains.

These defendants were sentenced to probation. The former national fraternity president received the most stringent sentence of 36 months of probation.

Previously, the most severe sentence in this case was ordered for another fraternity member who pled guilty to similar charges last January during the second day of his criminal trial. He was sentenced to five years of probation, 100 hours of community service and a $100 fine.

Four other defendants in this case are awaiting sentencing and may serve time in prison. They pled guilty to the felony offenses of voluntary manslaughter and hindering apprehension. Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines recommend 22 to 36 months imprisonment for these charges.

The defendants' national fraternity, Pi Delta Psi, was also prosecuted in this case. It became the first fraternity in this country that was convicted in the hazing death of one of its pledges.

Students charged with a crime should seek immediate legal assistance to help assure that their rights are protected. In addition to contesting charges, an attorney can also help negotiate a less severe criminal sentence.

Source: Reuters, "Another 14 fraternity members get probation for hazing death in Pennsylvania," By David DeKok, Nov. 29, 2017

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