What is a Hate Crime?

Posted by Chris Morales on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 @ 09:59 AM

  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.).

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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.

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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. 

 

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