Hate crimes are committed when a victim is targeted due to their race, sexual orientation or other factors such as their religion. The federal law is triggered in these cases and it often means more jail time for a defendant who is convicted.
Under federal law the hate crime legislation may be brought in when the offense is linked to actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin or perceived religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Recently a Texas man was sentenced to six years in federal prison after he committed what the media described as a “knockout game” hate-crime assault on an 81-year-old black man.
Conrad Alvin Barrett attacked the elderly man two years ago while he was walking near his home in Katy, Texas, smashing his jaw in two places. Media reports stated the 27-year-old admitted he attacked the man because of his race. He recorded the assault on his cellphone.
As well as the jail time, Barrett was ordered to serve three years of supervised release following his prison sentence and pay $2,000 in restitution. Prosecutors said Barrett walked calmly toward the elderly man, gave what appeared to be a friendly greeting and punched him hard in the face.
“The defendant committed this shocking and violent assault against this vulnerable elderly man simply because he was African American,” Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, stated. “The Department of Justice will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of victims of violent crimes are vindicated,” he added.
Barrett was said to have made racist remarks in recordings of the attack and was seen on video laughing as he said “knockout” while he was running to his car.
Hate crime legislation is regularly used in Texas. Earlier this year, an attack on a gay man in Texas was prosecuted as a hate crime. A 19-year-old faces a possible life sentence after a serious assault on a gay man he met online who he beat up, tied up and put in the trunk of a car.
In another case the news channel KENS5 reported on how a gay Texas man required plastic surgery after being brutally beaten by a stranger he reportedly connected with on the social networking app MeetMe.
Earlier this year the Huffington Post reported on how a lesbian from Texas claimed to have been beaten unconscious after coming to the defense of bullied child at a playground in Mesquite. She alleged a hate crime had taken place.
The Justice Department was reported to be considering bringing federal hate crime charges against the white man accused of carrying out a massacre at a black church in South Carolina in June. Dylann Roof, 21, faces nine counts of murder in state court, where he could be sentenced to death.
If you are charged with a federal hate crime you are likely to be facing a more serious sentence than would otherwise be the case. It’s important to hire an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney in such cases.