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What You Should Know About Federal Hate Crimes

Posted by Posted on in Hate Crime Statute

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."

Federal hate crime law covers crimes motivated by bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, and gender identity. So, if you are accused of a hate crime, you will not only be charged with the underlying offense—like assault or battery—but you can also be charged with a hate crime.

The penalty for a hate crime can range from a fine to up to 10 years in prison—and in some cases, even death. The specific penalty will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case as well as the defendant's criminal history.

Hate Crime Examples

The real-life example above is perhaps one of the most extreme alleged hate crimes that we have witnessed in our lifetimes. Here are some other examples of hate crimes under federal law:

  • A group of teenagers egg and vandalize a gay couple's house because they do not like that the couple is living together. This would be considered both vandalism and a hate crime.

  • A woman breaks into an abortion clinic and sets fire to it because she wants to stop women from being able to get abortions. This would be considered arson and a hate crime.

Facing Hate Crime Charges? Contact a Chicago Federal Hate Crime Defense Lawyer

Hate crimes are serious offenses that can result in stiff penalties, possible including the death penalty. If you have been charged with a hate crime it is important that you seek the assistance of an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. Call 312-629-0669 for a free consultation at Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today.

 

Sources:

https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-grand-jury-indicts-accused-tops-shooter-federal-hate-crimes-and-firearms-charges

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

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