The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed into law in October 2009, expanded the existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, and it no longer requires that the victim be engaging in a federally protected activity. This greatly expands the number of incidents that may now be classified as a hate crime as well as expands the motivations for hate crimes that are now allowable.
Crime, hate or bias-motivated, can range from pulling the scarf of a Muslim women in a grocery store to using racial slurs against someone during an assault or targeting someone you met through a homosexual website for an attack. There have even been religious cases where people were prosecuted for passing out anti-homosexual pamphlets or the case of an ex-homosexual sharing his testimony with a homosexual in a public area. Generally, hate crimes are criminal acts perceived to have been motivated by hatred of a specific group, but are not confined to physical harm of the person. Damage to someone’s property, verbal abuse such as bullying or harassment as well as graffiti or mail that is offensive may be defined as a hate crime.
It is not unheard of to be falsely accused of a hate crime as people may make false accusations to cover their own involvement in a crime, or they may embellish a story with accusations of a hate crime. A good hate crime defense lawyer or criminal defense lawyer can separate fact from fiction.
The penalties for hate crime offenses can be life in prison or the death penalty, depending upon the severity of the crime and the resulting injury, if there is one. The sentence you receive could be more severe if it is determined that a hate crime was committed in the process. If you have been accused of a hate crime, it is very important to have an experienced hate crime defense lawyer. A good criminal defense lawyer is invaluable to your proper representation if you are charged with a hate crime.
If you want the best in knowledgeable legal representation & a criminal law firm that will treat your case with consideration and concern, please contact us at 919-300-6494 for a FREE confidential consultation.