The topic of hate crimes recently made the local news. Over the weekend, pieces of uncooked bacon were strewn over John D’Amato Field in Staten Island. About 1,500 Muslims gathered there Sunday morning to celebrate the end of Ramadan. Because of their religious beliefs, Muslims don’t eat pork.
Police are investigating the bacon incident as a hate crime. In the past, pork products have been used to taunt Muslims. Under New York law, hate crimes are “criminal acts involving violence, intimidation and destruction of property based on bias and prejudice”. Usually, hate crimes involve victimizing a person because of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. Hate crimes typically involve physical assaults, vandalism, harassment, robbery, rape, or murder. Individuals accused of hate crimes receive punishment that is one level more severe than the normal punishment for that particular crime, which will increase prison time. In addition to any state charges that result from a hate crime, hate crimes are also now federal crimes in many instances.
There is a huge stigma to hate crimes. Juries may be more willing to convict a person of a hate crime than another type of crime, prosecutors are eager to obtain convictions, and people who are convicted may have a hard time finding employment or re-entering society after a hate crime conviction.
Therefore, it is important to obtain a very skilled criminal defense attorney if you are charged with a hate crime in New York City. In order to prove you committed a hate crime, prosecutors must show that you were biased against a particular group of people, which is what caused you to commit that crime. An experienced attorney can formulate a good defense for you.