While all criminal offenses are taken seriously in Texas, some violations
of the law are considered particularly atrocious. When a person commits
a crime against another individual solely based on his/her race, ethnicity,
religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, political affiliation,
or being associated with a protected group.
Common types of hate crimes include:
The difference between a hate crime and a standard criminal action is that
if a victim of the crime belongs to a minority group, an ordinary criminal
charge may be upgraded to a hate crime. Not only does a hate crime victimize
another person, but also violates the civil rights of the victim.
In order to be convicted of a hate crime, the prosecution must prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that the defendant was motivated to commit such a crime
due to the victim’s minority background. In a hate crime case, the
defendant’s background may be called into question—perhaps
his or her history of prejudice—and used as evidence in court.
In Texas, a crime that is determined to be a hate crime is subject to additional
or enhanced penalties. Other than a Class A misdemeanor or a first-degree
felony, the underlying offense is enhanced to the next higher category
of offense. For example, if the offense is a third-degree felony and the
jury returns an affirmative find that the crime was motivated by prejudice
toward the victim’s background, the offense is enhanced to a second-degree felony.
When an individual is charged with a hate crime, the first step needs to
be hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer may fight
back against the charges of a hate crime by arguing that the offense was
not motivated by prejudice. Since the only difference between an ordinary
crime and a hate crime is the element of prejudice, this will most likely
be the main point of contention in the defense’s case.
Contact our College Station criminal defense attorney at
The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. for more information today.