b2ap3_thumbnail_chicago-hate-crime-defense-lawyer.jpgA man suspected of shooting and killing ten black individuals in a Buffalo grocery store in March was recently formally charged with multiple weapons violations and federal hate crimes. Many people understand the general concept of a hate crime, but do not fully understand what a hate crime is and when they can face charges for a hate crime. Hate crimes can be classified as both state-level offenses and federal offenses. Federal hate crime charges are punishable by severe, life-changing penalties. If you or a loved one were accused of committing a hate crime, contact a hate crime defense lawyer immediately.

Hate Crimes are Crimes Motivated by Bias Against Certain Groups

The term “hate crime” can be confusing because many violent offenses are motivated by anger or hate. According to federal law, a hate crime is one that is committed against someone because of the person’s race, national origin, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The crime could be motivated by the person’s actual race, religion, gender, or another characteristic, or the perceived characteristic.

Hate crimes are often violent offenses like assault or murder. However, threats of violence, arson, vandalism, and other offenses may also be considered hate crimes. Conspiracy to commit a hate crime can also lead to federal criminal charges.


Illionois defense attorney,  Illinois criminal defense lawyer, IL hate crime lawyerIn early February, a man entered a plea deal after being accused of setting fires to three different churches in Louisiana. Now he faces a number of state and federal charges. Among the federal charges he is facing, one is intentional damage to religious property, which is a hate crime under the Church Arson Prevention Act.

Damaging Religious Property Defined

According to Title 18, U.S.C., Section 247, damaging religious property is defined as damaging, defacing, or destroying property due to its religious nature. This last element of the offense is very important. In order to be considered a hate crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant damaged property intentionally, and specifically due to its religious nature.


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Illionois defense attorney, Illinois federal crimes lawyer, Illinois criminal defense lawyerAccording to the FBI, hate crimes in the United States rose by 17 percent in 2018. That makes it the third consecutive year that these numbers have increased. What may be even more troubling is that it has been estimated that less than ten percent of hate crimes in the country actually show up in the FBI’s data. But what exactly is a hate crime? Is it different than hate speech? And what are the penalties? Hate crimes, and their penalties, can be very serious. Anyone charged with a hate crime needs to speak to a federal crimes lawyer in Illinois as soon as possible to give themselves the best chance of success in court.

What Is a Hate Crime?

The FBI classifies a hate crime as an additional crime tied to any other offense. If a person commits murder, arson, vandalism, assault, or any other crime with an added element of bias, it is considered a hate crime. That bias could be based on someone’s religion, sexual orientation, race, disability, or gender. When these crimes are committed, and they have the additional element of bias, it is considered a hate crime. Hate crimes, in the United States, are considered federal crimes. When someone is convicted of a hate crime, they are sentenced to penalties for the original offense they committed. Additional penalties, such as longer sentencing or higher fines, are then added to that original sentence for the hate crime element of the offense.

Difference in Hate Crimes and Hate Speech

Canada and the European Union both have laws pertaining to hate speech and the penalties involved if someone is convicted. In the United States though, hate speech is not a crime. It is protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For example, if someone assaulted someone due to their religion, that would be considered a hate crime in the United States. If someone only made disparaging or belittling remarks against someone based on their religion and did not hurt them, that would be considered hate speech. Therefore, there would be no crime committed.

Laws on Federal Hate Crimes

There are many laws pertaining to hate crimes in the United States. One of the earliest is found in the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 1. The Church Arson Prevention Act was also passed by Congress in 1996. This makes it a crime to vandalize, damage, or destroy any religious property. More recently, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was enacted by former President Obama in 2009. This act was named for two victims of a hate crime.

Contact a Federal Crimes Lawyer in Illinois

While facing a charge of a hate crime can seem hopeless, it is not. There are defenses available, and the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney can provide them. Call us today at 312-629-0669 to set up your free consultation. We will review your case, determine the best strategy for defense, and then fight to ensure your rights are upheld in the courtroom. When you need the best defense, you need a talented Chicago federal crimes lawyer. So do not wait, call us today.



Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerHate crimes are a very serious offense, which could cost you your overall quality of life. When faced with a hate crime, there are many unwanted consequences that could decrease the chance of obtaining employment and relationships with loved ones. Hate crimes can be violent in nature, and can cause serious injury or even death to others.

What Is a Hate Crime?

Hate itself is not necessarily a crime. However, a hate crime is defined as any type of crime, such as murder, arson, or vandalism, but with an added element of bias. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a hate crime is when a person commits a criminal offense against someone else or other property due to the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, gender and gender identity, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.


Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois hate crime statutesAccording to the FBI, an average of 5,000 to 7,000 hate crimes are reported each year in America. The bureau defines a hate crime as any criminal offense committed against a person or property that is motivated by a bias against a certain religion, race, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The FBI reports that nearly half of all hate crimes are driven by racial bias, and advocates worry that hate crimes may be increasing due to racial and religious tension in America.

Just over a year ago, nine African American churchgoers were shot in Charleston, South Carolina in a violent attack labeled a hate crime, and other minority groups have seen increased violence lately as well. Muslims say violence against them has risen, and gay and transgender groups report being targets of violence recently as well. Despite hate crimes being handled very seriously by the federal government, an investigation recently conducted by the FBI shows that many local agencies across the country fail to accurately report the number of hate crimes their departments handle each year. Lack of Reporting According to the Associated Press, who conducted the investigation, over 2,700 police and sheriff departments across America have not submitted a hate crime report of any kind to the FBI over the past six years. The bureau encourages all departments to submit hate crime reports annually, even if the number of hate crimes listed is zero. Submitting annual reports, the FBI says, shows that communities are taking hate crimes seriously, even if they report zero hate crimes occurred. Those 2,700 departments that have not submitted reports in six years make up 17 percent of all law enforcement agencies nationwide, meaning the number of hate crimes in America could be significantly higher than reported, and the problems do not stop there. On top of the 2,700 some agencies that have failed to file a hate crime report of any kind over the past few years, many other agencies across the country have other reporting problems. Some agencies report some years, and then fail to do so other years. Other agencies report hate crimes for part of the year but not all of it. Many local agencies say they believed they were reporting, or following FBI protocol, when in fact they were not. While the FBI strongly encourages any law enforcement agency empowered to make an arrest to submit hate crime numbers annually, it is voluntary, and FBI officials are working on increased training to ensure departments do start reporting or do a better job of reporting. Of the agencies that did not report at all, many represented small towns of a few thousand people or less, but some were surprisingly in larger, more heavily populated areas with  histories of racial issues such as Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Advocates say that it is not just law enforcement agencies that are failing at identifying and reporting hate crimes. Victims often do not report hate crimes committed against them for reasons including fear of retaliation against them, fear of lack of support from law enforcement, or fear that the incident was a personal or private matter. The Sikh community, for example, is often confused with Muslims because they wear similar head coverings. Some Sikh community members say that their community fears reporting hate crimes because increased attention may draw more violence towards them. Fighting a Hate Crime Charge

If you are facing hate crime charges, you need the help of an experienced Chicago area criminal defense attorney. Hate crime charges are very serious, and your freedom and reputation could be at stake. Serious charges require serious legal expertise. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, Attorney Garfinkel and his team have extensive experience with the federal court system, and can help make sure your rights are protected during your case. Call 312-629-0669 today to schedule a free consultation with us to learn more.


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