When Does a Hate Crime Become a Federal Crime?
Extensive news coverage has been recently given to alleged perpetrators of hate crimes all across America. Sometimes what constitutes a hate crime can seem fairly obvious, but other times charges of hate crimes seem to be overzealously filed against those who are merely expressing their opinions. Both Texas state and federal laws protect citizens against hate crimes, but few people know what actually constitutes a hate crime and may be surprised when charges of a federal hate crime are filed against them. Here are three facts about federal hate crimes.
What is a Hate Crime?
When someone assaults a random person on the street and robs them of their wallet, that may seem equally wrong no matter what the sex, race, religion, or national origin of the victim may be. But when the perpetrator of such a crime commits the crime because the victim is a member of a federally protected class, the crime becomes a hate crime. A hate crime is a crime committed against someone who has specific characteristics, whether real or perceived, that are defined and protected under the law.
Can I Be Charged with a Hate Crime for Planning to Commit a Crime?
While charges are usually filed against someone who is alleged to have committed a crime such as arson of a religious institution, hate crime charges can also be filed against someone who is alleged to have conspired to commit a crime - even if they never actually did commit the crime they were planning. For example, a man was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for planning to target Jewish worshippers at a synagogue. Although he discussed plans to take action with undercover agents, he never actually attacked the synagogue.
What Are the Consequences of a Conviction for a Federal Hate Crime?
Punishments for federal hate crime convictions vary widely. In many cases, the typical punishment for the crime is merely enhanced. Punishments for the most serious crimes such as murder, rape, or kidnapping can include serious penalties, up to and including a life sentence in federal prison.
Call a Texas Federal Hate Crime Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a federal hate crime, consider working with an attorney who has experience defending against federal criminal charges filed against Texas citizens. At The Crowder Law Firm, P.C., we believe every person has a right to a vigorous criminal defense, no matter what the charges may be. Our Texas federal criminal defense attorneys work passionately to defend our clients and make every effort to reduce or drop charges. Call us now at 214-303-9600 to schedule a free consultation and learn more.