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The reason for violent crimes can impact charges and sentences

Violent crimes of any sort are prosecuted harshly. The motivation behind the crime is something that might be considered when the charges are being determined and when a sentence is handed down after a conviction. One example is when the motivation for a crime was hatred for a protected group. In that case, the violent crime might be labeled as a hate crime.

A hate crime is defined as a crime that is committed against someone because of his or her disability, race, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or ethnicity. The hate crime is meant to intimidate or harm the person because of one of those factors.

Hate crimes affect not only the victim of the crime, but society as a whole. These crimes often lead to tensions that can cause cities or communities to suffer harm. Riots, injuries, and property destruction are possible when hate crimes are committed. Those negative consequences might not be at the hands of the person who committed the hate crime, but they are still serious.

Young adults and teenagers are responsible for committing almost two-thirds of hate crimes. Most of the victims of these hate crimes are 11 to 21 years old. Blacks are twice as likely as whites to be targeted in hate crimes. More than half of all hate crimes are racially motivated.

If you have been charged with a hate crime, including those involving physical violence, you should understand the penalties that you face. These might be enhanced because of the hate crime classification. From there, you and your attorney can determine what defense should be used in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance," accessed June 10, 2016

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