Should a Crime against Police be Considered a Hate Crime?

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer,In the wake of police shootings and retaliatory attacks on police officers, the National Fraternal Order of Police is pushing for a change to the statutory definition of a “hate crime” to include crimes committed against police officers. Presently, a “hate crime” is a criminal offense committed against another person or person’s property when the crime is motivated by the victim’s race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. A conviction for a hate crime generally results in much more serious penalties for the offender.

Is the Hate Crime Statute Due to be Changed?

At first blush, police supporters may celebrate and support the FOP’s legislative push to change the hate crime statute. Designating something as a hate crime communicates to society that the action or behavior is particularly reprehensible and deserving of greater punishment than other crimes. Changing the hate crime statute to include crimes against law enforcement officers is a strong way to show the nation stands behind its officers.

But as some hate crime experts have pointed out, adding law enforcement status to the list of characteristics in the hate crime statute presents some difficulties. First, it would be difficult to separate crimes that are motivated by a perpetrator’s dislike of police officers and other crimes committed against a police officer that are simply “part of the job” of being a police officer. For instance, suppose that a police officer is chasing a perpetrator and the perpetrator hits a police officer in order to facilitate his escape. Should such a crime be charged as a “hate crime” because the crime would not have been committed had the officer not been a law enforcement officer? Or is this crime one that “comes with the territory” of being a law enforcement officer and should not be punished as a hate crime?

Furthermore, many states already punish crimes against police officers more severely than other comparable offenses. In some states, for example, the killing of a police officer is sufficient to warrant the death penalty. In other states, assaults and batteries committed against law enforcement officers result in lengthier prison or jail sentences and heftier fines. In light of this, experts argue there is no additional benefit to be gained from designating a crime against a law enforcement officer as a hate crime.

Charged with a Hate Crime?  Contact Hal M. Garfinkel Today     

While it is unlikely the hate crime statute will be amended to include law enforcement officers, being charged with a hate crime is a serious matter. You can be facing serious consequences if you are convicted. In order to be convicted of a hate crime, the government must show that your criminal act was motivated by that victim’s race, religion, disability, or other “protected classification.” Hal M. Garfinkel is experienced in defending individuals charged with federal crimes, including hate crimes. Contact the dedicated Chicago criminal defense attorneys from the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today at 312-270-0999 for a free consultation.

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