A hate crime (http://www.justice.gov/crs/pubs/htecrm.htm) is a crime against a person or group that is motivated by the victim’s racial, religious, ethnic or gender group. For a criminal act to be a hate crime, it must meet any of the following criteria:
• During the crime, racial, religious or ethnic statements are made
• Hate group symbols are displayed
• Motivation for the crime is to intimidate, harm or injure a particular group or organization
• The victim perceives it to be a hate crime
Federal law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_crime_laws_in_the_United_States) covers hate crimes under civil rights statutes and provides for more severe sentencing on convictions if the defendant selected the victim because of:
• National origin
• Sexual orientation
In Maryland, it is against the law to:
• Vandalize any religious property
• Interfere by force or threat with anyone’s exercise of their religious beliefs
• Damage or destroy anyone’s property because of their race or beliefs
• Harass or commit a crime against any person because of their race, color, religious beliefs or national origin
And the state of Maryland, like the federal government, includes more severe sentencing when a person is convicted of a hate crime.
The very nature of a hate crime arouses enormous public outrage and media speculation. Unfortunately for the defendant in a hate crimes case, the negative publicity and public opinion can make it difficult to receive a fair trial. Merely being accused of such a crime can ruin your reputation, endanger your job and even splinter your family. And the need for an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney (http://www.howard-county-criminal-law.com/) is vital.