What Makes A Crime A Hate Crime?
Certain types of criminal behavior can be classified as hate crimes. In situations when a defendant is charged with a hate crime, the defendant can face harsher penalties than he would have faced if he had just been charged with the underlying offense(s) that gave rise to the hate crimes charges.
Defending against hate crime accusations can be challenging, but it is of vital importance to try to avoid the harsh penalties that hate crimes charges carry if convicted. Our Albany criminal defense attorneys can provide assistance to those accused of a hate crime.
What Does it Mean to be Charged with a Hate Crime?
Recently, there have been many news reports indicating that hate crimes charges have been brought against defendants. For example, CNN reported that four suspects were charged with hate crimes after kidnapping and torturing an individual with special needs. The torture was recorded and broadcast on Facebook Live. The hate crimes charges were additional charges on top of accusations of felony aggravated kidnapping; aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; and aggravated unlawful restraint.
The New York Post also reported on a recent case in which a man was charged with a hate crime. This time, the charges stemmed from the fact that the man alleged took a hijab from a woman who was driving down the road.
According to the reports from the New York Post, the man who was accused of the hate crime yelled out of his car at the woman that ‘Muslims are not supposed to be driving.” When the woman took a picture of the man, he allegedly took her phone and threw it and he then reportedly took her hijab off her head and took it into his own vehicle. He was charged with aggravated harassment and criminal mischief, along with the hate crime charges.
Stories like these raise an important question: What exactly is a hate crime? The specific definition can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in general it is a crime that is motivated by a particular set of beliefs.
In New York, for example, section 485.05 defines hate crimes. Under this New York law, a person commits a hate crime if he intentionally chooses a victim, or commits acts against a victim, on the basis of that victim’s race, religion, national origin, gender, ancestry, religious practice, disability, age, or sexual orientation. It does not matter if the victim actually is the perceived race, gender, etc., as long as the person who has been accused of committing the hate crime believed that the victim fit in with that particular category.
If a prosecutor can prove that a crime was motivated by one of these particular characteristics of the victim, harsh penalties can result for the hate crime, in addition to penalties for whatever the underlying offense was. If you face hate crimes charges, it is important that you contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC as soon as you can so we can get to work on defending you from such serious accusations.