It was a crime that shocked America. A Portland man killed two people on a train after bombarding them with anti-Muslim slurs. Two weeks later, vandals in Los Angeles spray paint the N word on the home belonging to NBA superstar LeBron James. An Israeli teenager is charged with making threatens against several Jewish community centers It seems the amount of high-profile hate crimes are increasing. It has gotten to the point where criminal experts, including criminal defense attorneys, are debating whether the term “hate crime” is outdated.
Is Hate Really a Crime?
In many instances, hate crimes, are not provoked by pure hatred towards a specific person. Instead, it is often a combination of emotions ranging from fear to anger to indignation. Simply hating something is not a crime. But it can be an emotional stimulus that can trigger violent acts, such as homicide, vandalism or arson. Many states across the country, including Utah, have either introduced or passed legislation, creating stiffer punishments. But even prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys continue to disagree on its true definition.
The Targeting of Minorities
Minorities are typically the victims of hate crimes. The strained relationship between law enforcement and the African American community has long been documented. It has even resulted in the creation of movements, such as Black Lives Matter. In recent years, hate crimes have sharply increased against Muslims along with gays and transgender people. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 1,300 hate crimes have been committed against these specific minority groups from last November’s election through February of 2017.
Four Types of Hate Crime Offenders
The FBI training manual currently lists four types of hate crime offenders. Each has its own distinct characteristics based on data collected by law enforcement.
Thrill Seekers: This group is made up mostly of immature young people looking for drama and excitement. In many cases, there is no good reason why they commit hate crimes. Many use the excuse of boredom to engage in these illegal activities.
Defenders: Many people who commit crimes use the excuse of “defending their turf”. They often see certain minorities as a threat to their neighborhood or infringing on their religion and values.
Retaliators: When a crime or violent act is committed against a group of people, some victims have been known to take the law into their own hands. Many acts of terrorism often fall into this category. The increased hate crimes committed against Muslims is seen as a backlash against terrorist attacks, including 9/11.
Mission Offenders: This group of people are often guilty of committing some of the most brutal hate crimes. It is also the smallest group. Mission offenders are often those who represent extreme political or religious views. They often engage in acts of violence and vandalism to spread their hatred. Some examples include the Ku Klux Klan and Neo Nazi organizations.
How a Salt Lake City Hate Crime Attorney Can Help
Getting charged with a hate crime can bring severe consequences and result in significant jail time. If a person is accused of a hate crime, it is vital to seek representation from an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney with a track record of protecting the rights of each client. The legal team at Salt Lake City criminal defense law offices of White & Mattern, PLLC are ready to help. They utilize an aggressive and comprehensive approach to help place clients in the best position to succeed. To learn more, contact their law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.