The Good and the Bad Regarding Hate CrimesPosted on:2/21/2011
|One of the newer types of crime to be entered into criminal law is the “hate crime.” These are crimes whose motivation is at least partially fueled by hatred towards a minority population, such as those of color or with alternative sexual preferences. |
One of the newer types of crime to be entered into criminal law is the “hate crime.” These are crimes whose motivation is at least partially fueled by hatred towards a minority population, such as those of color or with alternative sexual preferences.
Whatever your view on hate crimes, whether you see them as just another way to heap more guilt and punishment on criminals or as a way to abate crimes against minorities, they are being charged more and more often. Throughout the country, hate crime charges are being used to add more severe punishments to crimes committed – and not always justifiably.
The argument against hate crimes laws is that all crimes are motivated, at least in part, by hate – especially crimes of violence, to which hate crime is most often attributed. The argument for hate crimes laws is that they help protect minorities who are targeted for crime specifically because of their minority status.
A case in California, for instance, has a man smashing the windows of three separate businesses in two towns based, apparently, on the man's hatred for the gay and lesbian community. All three businesses are owned by and/or cater to that community. These acts of property damage based on hatred are what hate crimes laws are said to be for.
In another case, however, a man walking down the street overhears another man and apparently mistakes the negative comments the man made as being directed at him. He attacked the man, who was on his cell phone, and used racial epithets towards him. The attacker is being charged with hate crimes for his commentary. These actions, however, are a lot more dubious and harder to justify as being “hate crimes.”
Hate crimes are a touchy subject and attorneys deal with them almost daily. In the majority of hate crimes accusations, the charges are dropped and the case proceeds using only the original crime instead. Despite the public relations gamble inherent in defending criminals against hate crimes, many attorneys take their jobs seriously and do so anyway. No matter what the accused is said to have done, nothing is proven until a judge and jury say it has happened definitively.