New York Hate Crimes Lawyer
Being charged with a hate crime can be a very serious matter and one that can impact the rest of your life. New York prosecutors often overzealously charge people with hate crimes anytime they believe a person was threatened because of their ethnicity, race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, even when these issues were not involved.
Because New York has taken an aggressive stance towards preventing and stopping hate crimes, the consequences of a charge or a conviction can be serious.
If you have been charged with a hate crime in New York, contact an experienced hate crimes lawyer. Local lawyers can defend those who have been accused of or charged with a hate crime. A hate crime conviction can seriously compromise your future and your freedom.Definition of a Hate Crime
The New York legislature has enacted laws that define hate crimes in NY Penal Law §485.05. Generally, under this statute, a hate crime is defined as any crime against an accuser that is committed because of the accuser's perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation.
When New York enacted the New York Hate Crime Act in 2000, the legislature explained the policy decisions behind the legislation, stating:
"[h]ate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society.
Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual accusers but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the accuser belongs.
Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes." NY Penal Law § 485.00.Common Discriminations
Under the statute, a person can be charged with a hate crime if the alleged crime was the result of an accuser belonging to any of the following groups:
- Age (60 or older)
- Disability (mental or physical)
- National Origin
- Religion/Religious Practices
- Sexual Orientation
Not only is it against the law in New York to commit a crime against a person because a person has any of the above characteristics, but there is also a social stigma that follows anyone accused of a hate crime.Hate Crimes in New York
There are numerous criminal offenses including both felonies and misdemeanors that have the potential to be considered hate crimes. A New York hate crimes lawyer can help defend against any of the following charges:
- Aggravated assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Criminal mischief
In New York, being charged with a hate crime has the potential to increase a criminal penalty, and a hate crime can be considered a factor that may enhance the severity and consequences of any punishment.
Generally, a hate crime will allow the prosecution to seek enhanced punishments one degree higher than the crime charged meaning that a person charged with:
- A Class B Misdemeanor can be punished as a Class A misdemeanor
- A Class A misdemeanors will be treated as a Class E Felony
- A Class E felony becomes a Class D felony
- A Class D felony becomes a Class C felony
- A Class C felony becomes a Class B felony
If you are being investigated for, have been accused of, or have been charged with a hate crime in New York, it is crucial that you contact an experienced and knowledgeable New York hate crimes lawyer.