What is a Hate Crime?

Right now, three men are on trial for the murder of 25-year old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was out for a jog when three white men gunned him down. Unfortunately, hate crimes are getting a lot more common. Here in New York, there was also a recent attack on an Asian man that has been classified as a hate crime.

Both the federal government and the state of New York have hate crime laws. Yet what is a hate crime, and what makes it different from a normal murder? 

Federal Hate Crimes

A hate crime is any crime that is known to be motivated by the victim’s “perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.” 

Bias-motivated bias is punishable by ten years to life in prison when prosecuted at the federal level. Some hate crimes are punishable by death.

New York Hate Crimes

The New York hate crime law is similar, but further outlines the crimes as aggravated assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, manslaughter, stalking, criminal sexual abuse or rape, unlawful imprisonment, coercion, burglary, harassment, robbery, terrorism, and more. A crime is elevated to a hate crime when the target is selected on the grounds of race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

In New York, a hate crime is always prosecuted as one category higher than the specified offense. That is, a Class D felony would be elevated to a Class C felony; a Class C felony would be elevated to a Class B felony, and so forth. 

Defending Against Hate Crime Charges

If the evidence is against you and we can show that the alleged act was not bias-motivated then we can at least help you reduce sentencing and severity of the crime, perhaps by working out a plea deal. If there is no evidence against you or the evidence is weak we might be able to get the charges dropped or dismissed, or acquit you in a jury trial, even if you possess paraphernalia or have made public statements that might tend to indicate hate of a certain group.

You need a skilled, experienced federal or New York criminal defense attorney who can thoroughly investigate your case and help you put your best foot forward. Hate crimes are more prevalent in the news than ever, and prosecutors are cracking down. Get a legal defense that can help you protect yourself, before its too late.

See also:

What To Do If Your Firearms Are Stolen

Does the 5th Amendment Let You Lie to Federal Agents?

When Can the Police Search Your Devices?