Hate crimes have reached a record high, according to a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The report states that hate crimes have surged to record levels in the 10 largest cities in the country, with hate crimes jumping by 12 percent since 2017. In fact, the numbers are the highest they’ve been in 10 years.
The report looked at hate crime numbers in 28 large cities in the United States. In San Jose, California, for example, the number of hate crimes increased a staggering 132 percent. Some experts say the numbers in various cities are probably even higher, as some hate crimes go unreported.
The rise in hate crimes isn’t confined to the United States, either. According to media reports, Canada also saw record highs for hate crimes in 2017. Statistics Canada reported that hate crimes against Muslims, Jews, and African American individuals rose the most compared to previous years. The increases were also most common in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for a hate crime, speak with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Criminal defense attorneys at Broden & Mickelsen, LLP in Dallas are experienced at handling hate crimes in Texas and defending individuals that are facing federal charges.
Hate Crimes vs. Terrorism
In some cases, people wonder if there is a difference between a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism. Some crimes are so egregious they seem like they should qualify as terrorism. Generally, a hate crime targets someone individually for a specific reason, such as their race, religion, or gender identity. By contrast, an act of terrorism usually targets a group of people for the purpose of inciting terror and creating chaos. However, there are certainly cases in which a crime can do both of these things.
Because each state has its own laws that define a hate crime, and many states also have laws that define terrorism, it’s not always easy to determine how a particular crime will be charged.
States also have their own methods of reporting hate crimes, which can make it difficult to determine how many hate crimes are actually occurring. While every state except Hawaii participates in federal data gathering with regards to hate crimes, some local jurisdictions in several states reported no hate crimes at all for 2017. According to experts, these jurisdictions collectively make up 87.4 percent of all agencies participating in federal data gathering, which means the majority of jurisdictions said they didn’t have any hate crimes. Experts say this is unlikely, which means the record high numbers for hate crimes is probably even higher than current reporting indicates.
There are also federal laws that make certain crimes a hate crime. For example, the federal hate crimes statute was signed into law in 1968, and it makes it a crime to use force or threaten to use force against someone based on their race, religion, color, national origin, or because the person is participating in an activity that’s protected by federal law. Examples of activities protected by federal law include going to work or school.
Additionally, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2009. The statute expands the definition of hate crime to include crimes carried out based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. As of 2016, the Department of Justice had pursued charges against 258 people and obtained 45 convictions under the law.
Hate Crime Laws for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Many people are surprised to find out that people in the LGBTQ community are at a very high risk of being the target of a hate crime. In fact, lesbian, gay, and transgender individuals are two times more likely than African-Americans to be the victim of a hate crime.
Reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics state that hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community are underreported. Additionally, these crimes are less likely to be classified as hate crimes by local law enforcement.
In addition to being underreported, hate crimes against people who identify as LGBTQ sometimes aren’t recognized because there are still states that don’t have hate crime statutes that cover these types of crimes. For example, Wyoming, Indiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina don’t have any laws that make it a hate crime to target someone based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In many states, hate crime statutes only apply to assaults against someone based on their sexual orientation, which means that attacks on people who identify as transgender aren’t considered hate crimes. In Texas, for example, the hate crime statute applies to sexual orientation, but it doesn’t cover gender identity.
Although a growing number of states have expanded their hate crime statutes to include gender identity, the laws continue to vary from state to state. This can make it difficult for experts to know exactly which parts of the country are experiencing the most hate crimes targeting people based on their gender identity.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a hate crime, contact the Broden & Mickelsen, LLP in Dallas today. As criminal defense attorneys, they are prepared to fight for your freedom and will be able to best explain all of your legal options.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case.