A hate crime is a criminal offense against an individual or group that is motivated by bias or prejudice against a particular race or social group. In other words, you can be charged with a hate crime if your criminal target someone else because of their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.
Massachusetts law addresses three types of hate crimes: hate crimes against morality, hate crimes against property, and hate crimes against individuals. Each hate crime is associated with certain definitions and penalties upon conviction.
Hate Crimes Against Morality
If a person offends the public decency, morality, or a sense of “good order,” he/she commits a hate crime. This often occurs when an employer or employee of a public establishment posts or distributes discriminatory material—or prevents certain individuals from entering or enjoying all the benefits of the establishment.
A conviction for this misdemeanor hate crime is punishable by a maximum 30-day jail sentence and/or a fine of up to $100.
Hate Crimes Against Property
If a person intentionally and knowingly destroys, defaces, or otherwise damages a place of worship (e.g. church, synagogue, mosque, etc.) or a religious burial site, it is considered a hate crime. In addition, a person can be charged with this hate crime for threatening to damage property.
Threatening to damage a place of worship is a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence and a fine no more than $1,500. Willfully damaging a place of worship is also a misdemeanor that results in a maximum jail term of two and a half years and a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the damages.
However, if the damage was worth more than $5,000, the hate crime is a felony offense. A conviction carries a maximum five-year prison term and restitution of up to three times the value of the damages.
Hate Crimes Against Individuals
If a person willfully harms or threatens harm to an individual based on their race or social group affiliations, it is considered a hate crime. The prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intention to intimidate the plaintiff solely based on the individual’s race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.
A hate crime against a person is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a jail term of up to two and a half years and a fine not exceeding $5,000. If the victim’s property is damaged due to the commission of the hate crime, the defendant is subject to restitution that is three times the value of the damages.
If the hate crime involves bodily injury, it is a felony offense that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. If a firearm or deadly weapon is involved, the judge can increase the maximum prison term to 10 years.
If you have been accused of a hate crime in Boston, contact Brad Bailey Law today at (617) 500-0252 and schedule a free consultation.