One commits a hate crime when he or she commits a crime against an individual or individuals who belong to specific social groups that legislators believe deserve and need special protection (e.g., sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnic groups, etc.).
Although hate crime laws vary state by state, a hate crime occurs, in general, when an illegal act is committed because of a victim’s color, race, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. Keep in mind that a hate crime is committed only because the victim belongs to one of the groups protected in a hate crime law.
Hate crimes were a lot more common in the past, but there have been some recent occurrences that have surfaced. For example, a series of attacks have on Mexican immigrants have recently been reported in the Port of Richmond in Staten Island. In fact, earlier in August 2010, a Staten Island grand jury indicted a man accused of assaulting and robbing a Mexican teenager.
There are two forms of hate crimes. The first type of hate crime is illegal conduct that is punishable in and of itself. For example, one may be charged with a hate crime if they were to interfere with a person’s civil rights. Therefore, a hate crime can be a separately-defined crime.
The second type of hate crime increases the punishment of those who commit a crime with a purpose for committing a hate crime. Thus, a misdemeanor can turn into a felony if it was committed with hate crime intent.
Historically, many groups have been specifically the target of illegal acts. Therefore, hate crime laws strongly-convey that anyone targeting distinct social groups, such as gays or Muslims, will not be tolerated in our communities and will face serious felony charges.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a hate crime, call Attorney Christopher Morales today to discuss your rights.