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What is a Hate Crime?

June 14, 2017
By The Wiseman Law Firm

Hate crimes are considered particularly egregious offenses in the legal system. This type of crime refers to a bias that a perpetrator has against a person of a particular sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or other social group. Just about any crime committed against a person can be classified as a hate crime if it was committed with some bias.

What makes a hate crime different from other crimes? If an individual is accused of a hate crime and is acquitted in state court, he or she is not protected from prosecution in federal court by the double jeopardy clause of the U.S. Constitution. A conviction can also lead to harsher penalties than one would face if for committing the same crime without bias.

How Are Hate Crimes Classified?

A hate crime can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the crime. Common hate crimes include:

  • Destruction of property
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Arson
  • Trespassing

Additionally, the federal government and some states have hate crime penalty enhancement statutes, raising the punishment for hate crimes, which is designed to lessen the number of these types of crimes. The reason for this is due to the fact that hate crimes are often viewed as more destructive than other crimes that involve the same offense. In fact, many research studies have suggested that victims of hate crimes usually suffer more severe effects than other victims.


A solid defense for a hate crime must show that a defendant was not biased against the victim, establishing a reasonable doubt regarding the defendant’s intent. It is possible for a defendant to be acquitted of a hate crime, while still being found guilty of a crime.

Penalties one might face for a hate crime conviction can vary greatly, ranging from incarceration to fines, or even the death penalty. Having a hate crime conviction on record can also harm a person’s potential to obtain employment or even eligibility for federal aid under certain programs.

Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a violent crime, you must obtain skilled legal representation as soon as possible. Allowing prosecution to walk all over you in court and doing nothing to defend yourself is tantamount to throwing yourself in prison. At The Wiseman Law Firm, our Orlando legal team is here to help you through this difficult time from start to finish.

Backed by over 15 years of legal and trial experience, you can be confident in our firm’s ability to effectively protect your rights.

Contact our office today at 407-420-4647 to schedule a free consultation. We have staff who are fluent in Spanish.

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