The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that there are many groups that are susceptible to hate crimes including African Americans, people with disabilities, homosexuals, and Jews. There have been over 7,800 federal hate crimes reported since 2008. These crimes impact not just individuals but also their property in the forms of vandalism and other types of property damage. Under the First Amendment of the Constitution, however, the federal government is prohibited from restricting speech and prosecuting individuals who merely advocate violence against certain groups. There are still various federal laws under which individuals can be prosecuted for hate crimes and this article will examine these various laws and their applicable details.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed this act into law. The law expands the definition of federal hate crimes to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived disability, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The law was named in honor of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who was killed as part of a hate crime in 1998, and Byrd, an African-American man who was dragged to death as part of a hate crime. This law also makes it a crime to willfully cause bodily injury or attempt to use a dangerous weapon against a person based on their color, national origin, race, or religion. The law is remembered as the first statute that allows federal criminal prosecution of hate crimes motivated by a person’s actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Church Arson Prevention Act
This Act makes it a crime to damage, deface, or destroy religious property or interfere with a person’s religious practice due to the religious nature of the property, if the crime affects interstate or foreign commerce, or on the basis of color, ethnic characteristics, or race.
Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing Act
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed this law, which marked the first federal hate crime statute. This act makes it a crime to use or threaten to use force to willfully interfere with any individual on the basis of color, national origin, race, or religion because that person is participated in any type of federally protected activity including employment, jury service, public education, or travel.
Conspiracy Against Rights Act
This law makes it illegal for two or more individuals to conspire to injure, intimidate, or threaten a person in any state, territory, or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any Constitutional or federal right.
Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights Act
This Act makes it a crime to threaten to use force to willfully interfere with any individual on the basis of color, national origin, race, or religion due to participation in a federally protected activity like employment, enjoyment of public accommodation, jury service, public education, or travel.
Obtain the Assistance of a Skilled Accident Attorney
If you are charged with a federal hate crime, it is important to obtain the assistance of strong and experienced legal counsel. Do not hesitate to contact Federal Criminal Law Center today to obtain the assistance that you need.