Criminal law in most modern courts concerns itself not only with the actions or results of a crime, but also the motivations behind it. The concepts of intent and premeditation play a large role here, with convictions and harsher sentences more likely for those proven to have thought about their crimes beforehand. An injury inflicted upon the discovery of infidelity, commonly known as a crime of passion, might therefore seem more forgivable to some than an elaborate plot of assassination.
Over the past few decades, motivations of bias have similarly begun to factor into our standards of severity. A hate crime, or offense committed at least in part of the basis of the victim’s race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, is nowadays seen as particularly grievous. For example, a robbery at gunpoint might be seen as warranting more intense punishment if the perpetrators are proven to have been targeting victims of a particular ethnicity.
Hate crimes have a particularly tragic history in America, where various minorities have long suffered attacks by bigoted individuals and groups. For decades, hateful practices such as lynching and cross-burning were accepted and condoned, even by local law enforcement. The Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 was a response to the growing concern that, even in modern times, these issues were not being properly addressed.
Being convicted of a crime due to hateful bias can leave a permanent stain on your record. If you or someone you know has been charged with this serious type of offense, contact the experienced San Jose criminal defense lawyers of the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100.