Overall, the number of hate crimes has been decreasing in the last decade or so. One case in 2012, a man from Port St. Joe shot his African-American neighbor in the head. When questioned, he simply stated that he did not understand why his actions were considered punishable. In his mind’s eyes: “he only shot a [racial slur].”
While the overall percentages may be lower, hate crimes are some of the highest in Broward County, as well as Miami County. The statistics may not always be a realistic reflection. Many crimes go unreported on a daily basis. In fact, approximately over half of hate crimes are not reported to law enforcement or are placed in another category altogether.
How the Law Defines Hate Crimes
According to one statistic in 2011, about 51.8% of hate crimes involved some form of assault. This means that of the crimes reported, more than half involved some form of violence. When looking at the nature of a crime, the element of violence often correlates with passion—a motive for committing the crime. Generally, hate crimes have notoriously been difficult to resolve in court because evidence often is not supportive enough to hold up in court.
Hate crimes generally consist of someone being victimized on the basis of religion, ancestry, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and even due to age. Some laws protect citizens from hate crimes due to other factors, such as homelessness, style of dress, or even political beliefs. Anything that may be perceived by another as “different” or has some semblance to a “minority” may be considered a hate crime.
Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are punishable under federal legislation, in accordance with The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The act provides assistance in the form of funding and other support, and allows judicial bodies to punish those who are convicted of a hate crime.
These are the possible penalties for a hate crime conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 245:
- Incarceration in federal prison for up to 10 years if bodily injury was caused
- Death penalty if the hate crime committed resulted in the death of the victim
These are the possible penalties for a hate crime conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 249:
- A minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment if bodily injury was involved
- Life imprisonment or possible death penalty, which will depend on the situation
Are you facing charges? Get an elite legal team on your case!
As Broward County criminal defense lawyers, we have seen strings of hate crime cases come in and out of courtrooms. Our county has one of the highest rates of hate crime incidences, and we have developed our prowess and knowledge at defending these types of cases. The insight we have gained in our years of experience may be an invaluable part of your own argument. If you were charged, you need to protect your reputation, and the best way to do that is to hire a legal team that can combat the arguments made against you in the courtroom.
Do not let a criminal charge tarnish your good name! Call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. today for legal counsel.