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What is a Hate Crime and is it a Federal Offense?

Posted by Posted on in Hate Crime Statute

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.

Penalties for Federal Hate Crimes

U.S. Code section 249 describes a federal hate crime as intentional injury or attempted injury against someone due to their race, color, religion, or national origin. The criminal penalties for hate crimes vary depending on the nature of the offense and other factors. Many hate crimes are penalized by up to ten years in prison. However, certain crimes, such as kidnapping, sexual assault, and crimes resulting in death may be penalized by up substantial prison sentences, including life in prison.

To convict someone of a hate crime, prosecutors must prove that the individual intentionally committed the offense and was motivated by bias against the protected group. The prosecution may argue that the person participated in hate groups, possessed literature or symbols like swastikas associated with bias, or used racial slurs during the alleged offense.

Contact a Chicago Federal Crimes Defense Lawyer

Federal hate crimes are often penalized by decades in prison. If you were accused of a hate crime, it is crucial to start building a defense as soon as possible. Illinois federal criminal defense attorney Hal M. Garfinkel has over 20 years of experience in a range of state and federal defense cases. Call Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/15/nyregion/buffalo-shooting-hate-crime-charges.html

https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/learn-about-hate-crimes

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