What Constitutes a Hate Crime?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

hate crimeHate crimes are those that show biased against a particular group of people. The bias can take many forms, including sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, and other social statuses. Therefore, hate crimes are often referred to as “bias” crimes.

If you are arrested for a hate crime, you could face state and federal criminal charges – depending on the extent of your offense.

The HCPA: Hate Crimes Prevention Act – and What That Means for You

Congress passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009, which is today referred to as the HCPA. The HCPA took existing statutes and amended them so that they addressed the categories of those protected under the Act. Victims targeted for sexual orientation, race, and disability were included for protection.

If you violate the HCPA, you could face federal charges.

When is a Crime a Hate Crime?

A hate crime might be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the extent of criminal acts associated with it.

Common types of hate crimes include:

  • Arson
  • Trespassing
  • Stalking
  • Assault and battery
  • Destruction of property

Adults and juveniles can commit hate crimes. If a minor were to complete a hate crime, however, they are charged with a delinquent act.

The federal government and some states also have enhancements for hate crimes.

In New Mexico, hate crimes fall under the New Mexico States Chapter 31 of Article 18B. New Mexico includes gender identity and sexual orientation in their statutes, and prosecutors can seek enhanced penalties. However, the penalties in the state are not as harsh as others.

Prosecutors Use Hate Crimes to Set an Example

If you have been arrested for a hate crime, you need a criminal attorney. Prosecutors and the federal government have worked hard to stop hate crimes. They use those arrested for the alleged acts as public examples, hoping to deter the public from similar crimes in the future. Therefore, if you have been arrested for a hate crime, the prosecution will do whatever they can to increase the penalties.

What is the Penalty for a Hate Crime?

The sentence for a hate crime depends on if you are charged with a state or federal offense. The penalties range from incarceration, to fines, to compensation to the victim, and even a completion of an anti-racism or anger management counseling program.

If you have a hate crime on your record, you could also find it impossible to get a job, receive state and federal aid, or even enter the military.

These crimes will affect you the rest of your life; therefore, you cannot risk hiring just any attorney. Instead, you need a lawyer with a track record for aggressively defending their clients.

To have your case evaluated free, speak with a lawyer from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices at 505-35-4664. You can also request your free case evaluation online.