Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Izquierdo LawIf you were charged with a crime such as rape, assault, vandalism, or harassment and the alleged victim is a member of a protected class, you could face additional penalties for “evidencing prejudice while committing an offense.” In other words, you could be charged with a hate crime. However, the state will have to meet a particular burden of proof, and that’s where a skilled defense attorney can help.

What Is a Hate Crime?

A violent crime can be reclassified as a more serious offense if it is suspected that the victim was targeted because of one of the following characteristics:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • National origin
  • Homeless status
  • Advanced age

However, it takes more than just the personal characteristics of the victim to justify charges of a hate crime. The prosecutor also has to prove that the defendant was motivated to commit the crime by hatred or bias towards to victim. The use of a discriminatory slur is not sufficient to prove that a hate crime has occurred. Evidence must be presented that the perpetrator holds prejudiced views and targeted the victim because of a personal characteristic.

How a Defense Attorney Will Fight Hate Crime Charges

Hate crime charges are usually added to a base offense, such as robbery or assault. One possible defense is to prove that you didn’t commit the base crime, and therefore, are not guilty of a hate crime. If you are found guilty of the base crime, your attorney can fight the hate crime enhancement by presenting evidence of the following:

  • You have no history of prejudice against people with the same personal characteristics as the victim.
  • You do not associate with groups that target these individuals.
  • You did not use discriminatory slurs, gestures, or symbols during the commission of the crime.
  • You were unaware of the victim’s personal characteristics.
  • You were not aware that language or markings you used are considered offensive to certain groups.
  • Other evidence that you were not motivated by hate or prejudice.

A hate crime enhancement can add years to a prison sentence and raise fines substantially, so it is important that you hire the best defense attorney you can to fight these charges.

Have You Been Charged With a Federal Crime?

If you've been charged with a federal crime you need to speak with an experienced federal crime attorney as soon as possible. Contact me online or call me at my Miami office directly at 305.707.7345.


Daniel Izquierdo
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Coral Gables defense lawyer helping clients accused of Federal Crimes, DUI, Domestic Violence & Sex Crimes.