Hate crimes have been a hot topic of debate since the 1960s, and with the recent publicity over George Floyd, a black American man who was killed during an arrest on May 25, 2020, emotions have gotten all fired up again and now we have popular campaigns like #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter.
The recent controversy over racism and police brutality have led to public protests, modern-day lynchings, looting, arson, vandalism, and various forms of “hate crimes.” But what are hate crimes exactly?
Hate Crimes Defined
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) explains how the term “hate” can be misleading. When hate is used in criminal law, it doesn’t refer to anger, rage, or even general dislike. Instead, “hate” refers to a bias against a person or a group because of specific characteristics which are defined by law.
“At the federal level, hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Most state hate crime laws include crimes committed on the basis of race, color, and religion; many also include crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability,” according to the DOJ.
The “crime” committed in a hate crime is frequently violent in nature. It can be an assault, arson, vandalism, murder, or the threat to commit any of these crimes. The crime can also be the act of conspiring to commit any of these crimes, even if the individuals never carried the crime out.
Why do we have hate crime laws? Because they have a broad effect; they don’t just impact a single victim. The victims of hate crimes include the immediate target, the victim’s friends and family, and others like them. “Hate crimes affect families, communities, and at times, the entire nation,” states the DOJ.
Hate crime statistics from the DOJ can be found here. If you’re facing criminal charges for a hate crime, you NEED a strong defense. Contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed to request your free case evaluation.