With one of the most divisive presidents in decades in office, it is not too surprising to understand the amount of division and the strong opinions that exist in our current political landscape. And while we are all entitled to our own thoughts and opinions, we should always think before we act. Unfortunately, sometimes people act before they think. If you have been charged with a crime that authorities have chosen to pursue as a hate crime, the stakes are even higher and the penalties even harsher.
What Separates a Crime from a Hate Crime?
It is important for people to understand the difference between a crime and a hate crime. While a crime is a criminal act committed against another individual, a hate crime occurs when you carry out the same act based upon the personal bias of a perceived protected class. It does not matter whether or not the individual actually belongs to the protected class – just that the defendant believed them to. Protected classes under the law include race, religion, color, national origin, and sexual orientation.
The following is an example of how a crime is raised to a hate crime. Let us imagine that you strike someone. This is considered the crime of assault and you can receive criminal charges for it. But if you struck the same person because of the fact that they are Muslim, you may be charged with a hate crime.
Other Important Information on Hate Crimes
There are some other facts that each of us should understand about hate crimes.
- Those who vandalize someone else’s property because of that person’s protected class may be charged with a hate crime.
- It is not illegal to express hateful speech; it is illegal to express hateful speech along with threats or to also incite violence. This may be considered a hate crime.
- Terrorism that is carried out because of a bias against a group of people may be considered a hate crime
The toughest part of charging – and convicting – someone with a hate crime is that hate crimes rest on intent. But since we are unable to be in anyone else’s head, it is difficult to know what drove someone else’s actions. Since there is a high interest in protecting the safety maintaining the peace of mind of communities, hate crimes carry much higher penalties than crimes.
The Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC Help Those Who Have Been Charged with a Hate Crime
If you or a loved one has been charged with a hate crime – regardless of a conviction – it can greatly impact your life. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will fight to reduce or even eliminate your charges. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!