Question for @mayjay



  • @mayjay and others of course! I know you have a legal background of some sort and wondered what you thought of hate crime charges.

    As I listened to a PBS discussion of hate crimes I thought through some of my own objections to it.

    1. Aren’t almost all crimes committed in hatred for the victim? If someone attacked one of my family members wouldn’t it be logical to say they’d be a victim of hatred for them?

    2. If that person was attacked because they were something that society says deserves to be protected by hate crime laws, doesn’t that violate the civil rights of the person who is a crime victim because they’re not part of a protected class?

    3. How do you prove someone committed a crime as a hate crime unless the person stated that was his or her intention?

    4. What I stated in 3 leads to a double standard because ‘protected classes’ who are victims will see their attacker charged with hate crimes while reverse cases won’t. I saw this once in Baton Rouge where a person was told you don’t belong in this neighborhood (African American majority) and beaten severely along with his wife and daughter who defended him. No hate crime added to that despicable mans charges.

    5. When a blood shoots a crip isn’t that hatred at it’s worst? Sounds like hatred to me.

    Anyhow, these are thoughts that irk me when I hear this term thrown around. What do you or others think?



  • @wissox We have been through this discussion at length previously. I really don’t want to get into it. Suffice it to say that hate crime legislstion has been enacted to emphasize societal dissaproval of crimes that society by and large tacitly condoned or at least did not punish. The voice of society as expressed in these laws is intended to help groups who engage in hate-inspired conduct realize they are now outlaws if they act on their hate, and that next time we won’t wink and nod and say, “Yeah, that [insert perjorative term] had it coming. How dare he [wink/move in/smile/be different]?”

    That not all hate crimes are punished is no reason not to prosecute ones where you can. Proving intent is no harder here than for common law burglary (breaking in at nighttime with intent to commit a crime), or 1st degree murder (malice aforethought). Proven by statements if available, inference from circumstantial evidence if no vocalized intent (maybe carrying a KKK flag & wearing a hood).

    This topic is the subject of lengthy seminars, dissertations, and law review articles. What I have said is general impressions, nowhere near the detail and history it deserves. But I hope it helps you understand some of the theory. I am exhausted from prior expositions, so I am out!



  • @mayjay Sorry I missed the previous discussion! Thanks for your response though.



  • @wissox I did a search and I think it must be in the Lost Archives. If you do a web search on “reasons for hate crimes laws” you might find some interesting stuff. Here is an NPR discussion:

    https://www.npr.org/2012/04/10/150351860/are-hate-crime-laws-necessary&ved=0ahUKEwj8uI-y-77XAhUV_mMKHUe4A-QQFgiWATAO&usg=AOvVaw2o7auSTNvVqE4VkMMa-vGV



  • wissox said:

    1. What I stated in 3 leads to a double standard because ‘protected classes’ who are victims will see their attacker charged with hate crimes while reverse cases won’t. I saw this once in Baton Rouge where a person was told you don’t belong in this neighborhood (African American majority) and beaten severely along with his wife and daughter who defended him. No hate crime added to that despicable mans charges.

    Anyhow, these are thoughts that irk me when I hear this term thrown around. What do you or others think?

    I just saw this category and wanted to focus on this one issue to clear up something legally. Hate crimes do in fact protect classes, but protected classes aren’t specific races or people, but rather categories.

    In other words, a crime motivated by a person’s race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation (some states), gender identity (some states), etc. is a hate crime. You do not have to be in a minority group to be protected. This is a common misconception. If a bunch of minorities attack a white person based on their race, that can be classified as a hate crime.

    Now, many prosecutors actually do not like charging hate crimes because in addition to proving the actual crime, you have to prove the targeting based on membership in the protected class.

    Because of this additional requirement of proof, many prosecutors focus on just charging the underlying crime itself unless the motive is clear (usually based on possession of a manifesto, membership in a hate group or something else) because prosecutors ultimately want to get the conviction. No one wants a vicious crime to result in an acquittal simply because they couldn’t prove that the motive was membership in a protected class. Obviously, I don’t know if that was the case in the example you presented, but it may have been.



  • @justanotherfan And charging the crime is usually what we hear about even when it does happen. When a guilty plea results, it seems the hate crime part often gets dropped. There do not seem to be lots of convictions reported in the news.



  • @mayjay

    Is this because if they admit guilt the Feds could come in with considerably more leverage and more severe penalties?



  • @JayHawkFanToo Good Q. Others can handle plea bargaining issues more reliably, but I would think the give and take of negotiation results in prosecutors dropping the more difficult-to-prove charge. Defendants would want to avoid any sentencing “kicker” from a hate crime conviction, federal or otherwise. Specific intent (such as hatred motivating that particular crime) is always harder to prove than general intent (desire to commit the act that is criminal).



  • @JayHawkFanToo and @mayjay

    Hate crimes do generally carry an additional sentencing penalty, so there is some negotiating leverage on the side of the prosecutor. For most hate crimes, the possibility of probation is off the table because the hate crime statutes make it an aggravating factor. At times, justice may be served by not charging or pursuing the hate crime conviction, which in a way misses the whole point because it doesn’t act as a deterrent from committing the crime, just as a bargaining chip in charging/sentencing.


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