A hate crime 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 covers hate crimes under civil rights statutes and provides for more severe sentencing on convictions if the defendant selected the victim because of:
• Race • Color • Religion • National origin • Ethnicity • Gender • Disability • 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 is vital.