Knowing What a Hate Crime Is
The state of Massachusetts has strict hate crime laws that feature tougher penalties on defendants that have targeted their victims because of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity or even disability. These laws are harsh and if you are convicted of a hate crime act, you may spend more time in jail or even face a more serious charge.
The Basis for a Hate Crime Charge
Massachusetts statutes are clear regarding hate crimes and their associated penalty enhancements. That means if convicted, you will face automatic increases in your penalties. To be charged with a hate crime, you must have two factors present:
- You committed a criminal act.
- Your criminal act targeted a victim because of race, ethnicity, gender, etc.
For example, if you assaulted an individual simply because they were Jewish, you most likely will be charged with a hate crime in the state of Massachusetts.
Hate Crimes May Become Federal Cases
The new federal hate crime statute (known as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act) allows the federal government to step in and provide investigation and prosecution assistance for hate crimes in all states. If the state of Massachusetts is unwilling or unable to prosecute someone for a hate crime, the federal government can still prosecute that individual. Also, this act ensures that defendants guilty of hate crimes are covered by the law – regardless of the reason they selected their victim.
Hate crime laws exist simply because of the increase in bias-motivated crime. Not only is the victim targeted for reasons out of their control, but their community can feel victimized as well. In some cases, the community may feel isolated, unprotected, vulnerable, and afraid that further crimes will be committed against them. The hate crime laws are designed to thwart further violence toward that community and avoid a dangerous spiral of escalating inter-group tension.
Enhanced Penalties Means Higher Fines and Jail Sentences
Massachusetts General Laws showcase enhanced penalties. For example, if you are arrested for assault or battery against a person due to bias, you could face up to $5,000 in fines and up to 2.5 years in prison – and you will be charged with a felony.
It is not just the criminal penalties you have to worry about. There are also civil penalties that will likely apply if you are arrested or found guilty of a hate crime. The entire community may feel that they can seek retribution on behalf of the victim, and you may face private lawsuits for your alleged acts.
It Is Imperative You Hire a Hate Crime Attorney – Contact Keegan Law Now
Because of the enhanced penalties associated with hate crimes, you need to contact a Boston hate crime defense attorney. Keegan Law has experience handling these types of cases and we will work hard to avoid the harsher penalties associated with these crimes. Call our offices at (617) 799-7644 or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.