What to Do if You Have Been Accused of a Hate Crime in Massachusetts

What to Do if You Have Been Accused of a Hate Crime in Massachusetts

Throughout the last few years, issues of race, culture, and identity have become major talking points. Massachusetts protects its citizens from discrimination based on these factors, but some argue that this is not enough. Hate crime laws in the Bay State ensure that individuals who commit crimes that specifically target minorities are given even tougher penalties than normal. But what exactly is a hate crime in Massachusetts? How are these crimes handled, and what
kinds of penalties will you face if accused of this crime?

If you are facing a hate crime charge, it is always a good idea to connect with a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In many cases, plaintiffs may accuse people of hate crimes without any real evidence. With a legal expert at your side, you can show that there was no intent to target specific individuals, and that your crime should be viewed in the same way as any other.

The Burden of Proof
In all criminal cases, the burden of proof falls on the accuser, not the accused. This is a fundamental aspect of America’s legal system, and it ensures that your case is handled in a fair manner. In some cases, it might be easy to prove that your crimes were motivated by hatred toward a specific group. For example, you might have vandalized a synagogue and spray-painted
a swastika across the doors.

On the other hand, a Southeast Asian individual might simply claim that you assaulted them based on the color of their skin without any real evidence to back it up. Perhaps you simply got into an argument with this individual over a matter that had nothing to do with race, and it escalated into violence. If you did not make disparaging remarks about someone’s race during
the assault and there were no other indicators that the assault was racially-motivated, the victim cannot simply claim that you committed a hate crime. They need real evidence to back up their claims. The Crime Reporting Unit in Massachusetts will fully investigate any allegations of hate crimes.

That being said, hate crime laws could be a “slippery slope” in Massachusetts, and lawmakers must be careful not to skew things too far in favor of alleged victims. Many political experts have claimed that according to Massachusetts’ hate crime laws, victims do not necessarily need to prove that there was “malicious intent.” This is why it is so important to hire a qualified, experienced defense attorney.

The Legal Definition of a Hate Crime

The Hate Crimes Penalties Act of Massachusetts clearly lays out how the Bay State handles these alleged crimes. If you commit assault/battery or damage someone’s property “with the intent to intimidate a person because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability,” you will be charged with a hate crime.

A hate crime is further defined as “Any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias, including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted or completed overt act motivated at least in part by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Generally speaking, the penalties for hate crimes depend on the type of crime being committed. For example, if you committed a misdemeanor, you would face larger fines (up to $5,000) or two and a half years in jail. If you committed a felony, you could spend up to five years in prison with a $10,000 fine.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been accused of a hate crime in Massachusetts, reach out to the Law Offices of Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty. We will help you pursue true justice. Contact us now at 413-732-8356