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 hate crime is subject to additional or enhanced penalties.
Besides a first-degree felony or a Class A misdemeanor, 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 determines the motivation
of the crime is prejudice against the victim’s race, 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 argue
that the offense was not motivated by prejudice. Since the only difference
between an ordinary crime and a hate crime is because prejudice is a factor,
which is the difference between guilty and not guilty.
Contact our College Station criminal defense attorney at
The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. for more information today.