The United States of America, commonly known as the land of opportunities, is home to people from different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. Additionally, the U.S. is also known to be a safe haven for people of different gender and sexual orientations. Since the U.S. has both federal and state laws that promote the co-existence of diverse communities, those found to go against the provisions of the law are often punished under federal laws.
In most cases, those who are intolerant of diverse communities end up committing hate crimes which are prohibited by law. If you are facing the tough punishment meted on those charged for a hate crime, you will need the help of an aggressive hate crime lawyer who will handle your case and improve the odds of you getting the possible outcome.
What is a hate crime?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines hate crime as a crime that is motivated by sexual, racial, ethnic, religious or other prejudice and it typically involved violence. Hate crimes are normally classified according to the people that the perpetrators of this crime target. They include race and religious hate crimes, disability hate crime, homophobic and transphobic hate crime and hate crime against old people.
What qualifies to be graded as a hate crime
For a crime to be categorized as a hate crime, the prosecutor must prove that the accused was prejudicial on the victim and use the prejudice as a catalyst that led to the commission of the hate crime against the victim. There are many offenses, both misdemeanor, and felony, that have the potential of being graded as hate crimes. These include:
• Aggravated harassment
• Arson Aggravated assault
• Aggravated sexual abuse
• Burglary and robbery
• Criminal mischief
• Criminal trespass
• Criminal sexual acts
• Petit or Grand larceny
• Reckless endangerment
• Sexual abuse and rape
• Unlawful imprisonment
How does hate crimes affect offense grading?
If it is determined that any of the offenses listed above had some element of hate crime in them, then you risk being hit by more fines and longer prison sentences if convicted. According to the NY Penal Law, if an offense has been classified as a hate crime then the following can happen:
• A Class B misdemeanor can be raised to become a Class A misdemeanor.
• A Class A misdemeanor can be raised to become a Class E felony.
• A Class E felony can be raised to become a Class D felony.
• A Class D felony can be raised to become a Class C felony.
• A Class C felony can be raised to become a Class B felony.
Penalties for hate crimes
The penalties for hate crime depends on the grading of the crime. These are explained below:
• For Class A misdemeanors, the fines can go up to $1,000 or a prison sentence of up to 1 year.
• For felonies, the fines are either capped at $5,000 or twice the amount that was earned during the period the accused person was involved in the crime. Prison sentences vary depending on the category of the felony:
i. Class E felony- not exceeding 4 years
ii. Class D felony- not exceeding 7 years
iii. Class C felony- not exceeding 15 years
iv. Class B felony-not exceeding 25 years
v. Class A felony- can attract a life sentence.
Also, note that the severity of penalty meted by the justice system depends on whether the crime was violent or non-violent. The justice system is lenient on non-violent offenders while it treats violent offenders with a firm hand. For example, it is common to find a class D non-violent felony offender in probation while a class D violent offender is incarcerated serving a minimum of two years in jail.
Defense for hate crimes
If you have been charged with a hate crime, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will help you handle the case. In most cases, those who have been charged with this crime are stigmatized and can lose their jobs and social life.
Don’t risk serving many years in jail and having your name added to the list of convicted felons. Speak to one of our hate crime lawyers who will guide you through the defense process and secure you the possible outcome from your case.