Federal Hate Crime Charges and Penalties

Posted on in Hate Crime Statute

IL defense lawyerIn defining a hate crime, the term “hate” refers to a bias against a group of people with similar defining characteristics. 

In a recent year, there were a reported 7,200 incidents of hate crimes. Hate crimes can include a number of acts, from physically assaulting someone because of their ethnicity, setting a group home for people with disabilities on fire, or vandalizing a place of worship. 

If you have been charged with a hate crime, you need to speak with a Chicago criminal defense attorney who can represent your interests.


chicago federal criminal defense lawyerIn May of this year, ten people were killed, and three others were injured when a 19-year-old man opened fire at a grocery store in downtown Buffalo, New York. All of the victims were Black, and officials say the evidence indicates that the shooting was racially motivated.  As a result, when a federal grand jury indicted the young man in July, the charges included 14 counts of federal hate crimes. The alleged shooter could face the death penalty if convicted.

Federal hate crime law prohibits certain crimes motivated by bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. This means that if you commit a crime against someone because of their protected status, you could be charged with a hate crime in addition to the underlying offense.

What Is a Hate Crime?

A hate crime is a traditional criminal offense like murder, robbery, or vandalism that is motivated by bias against a protected group. The term "hate crime" is often used interchangeably with "bias-motivated crime."


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.


What Is a Hate Crime?

Posted on in Hate Crime Statute
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.


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