Understanding Hate Crime Laws

Posted on: 24 March 2020

Unfortunately, hate crimes appear in the news frequently. They are commonly associated with religion, sex, gender, and race. Some of these crimes can be deadly, while others are meant to intimidate or traumatize large groups of people.

Hate crimes are serious, and you cannot ignore charges associated with them. If you are facing such charges, you need to know exactly what you are up against. The answers to these questions will help you understand the allegations you face.

What Are Hate Crimes?

Hate crimes are crimes committed against people, property, or communities that are generally motivated by some sort of bias or prejudice. The victim may have been selected based on their race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical disability, political affiliation, or another aspect of physical appearance. One need not actually belong to a protected group to be the victim of a hate crime, but it may count even if they are merely perceived to be.

What Are Some Examples of Hate Crimes?

A hate crime may include a physical attack, including assault and battery. It can also include destruction of property, like arson or vandalism. Often, this occurs at a church or community center affiliated with a group. Cross burnings, painted hate symbols, firebombing, and cemetery desecrations may also fall under hate crime legislation depending on the circumstances. Each state has different regulations regarding hate crime legislation and protected groups.

What Are the Sentences for Hate Crimes?

Depending on your state, a hate crime stipulation on your charges could mean that you have a harsher penalty. You may spend more time in prison or jail because of aggravating factors. Essentially, the sentence you receive is based on the specific crime you are convicted of as well as the specific location where you live.

What Should You Do If You Are Charged with a Hate Crime?

If you have been charged with a hate crime, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney who can help you square off against the charges in court. You do not want to have a hate crime conviction on your record.

Many people mistakenly believe they should not hire an attorney if they are innocent. They fear it will make them look guilty. This is not the case. You should always hire an attorney to help you through the process of understanding your rights and facing the charges in court.

For more information, contact a criminal defense attorney.