Defending Yourself Against a Hate Crime Charge in New York
A hate crime is one that is motivated by a victim’s perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. When an offense is classified as a hate crime, the law provides for greater levels of punishment, known as penalty enhancements.
New York hate crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on type and severity of the underlying crime. Additional punishments for hate crime convictions can include longer jail terms, larger fines, compensation to the victim and completion of rehabilitation programs such as anger management.
In addition, a hate crime conviction can create a stigma that follows you indefinitely and perhaps limits your future employment opportunities and ability to find housing.
An essential part of defending yourself against a hate crime charge is challenging the assertion that there was a biased motive involved.
For an offense to qualify as a hate crime, it must have been committed as a direct result of a bias held towards the victim or the protected class to which the victim belonged — such as people of age 60 or older. A biased motive cannot be presumed simply because of the victim’s membership in that class. To be convicted of a hate crime, the offender must to have a proven bias against people of that age group.
Note that it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove a biased motive in hate crime cases, not the defendant’s burden to show a lack of one. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can effectively counter the prosecution’s efforts by showing that the defendant has no prior history of biased acts against people in the victim’s protected class.
Intent is another essential element of a hate crime charge. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual intentionally committed the underlying crime, rather than having caused injury or harm through negligent or reckless behavior. If intent to commit the underlying crime is negated, the prosecution cannot prove a hate crime was committed.
The Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. provides effective Christian faith-based legal services in Rochester and the surrounding areas. Mention our website when you call us at 585-563-1134 or when you contact us online and receive a free 30-minute initial consultation. We offer convenient business hours and offer evening and Saturday meetings by appointment.