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Charges for Hate Crimes on the Rise in New Jersey

Charges for Hate Crimes on the Rise in New Jersey

hate crime lawyer njNewly-released data from the FBI showed that the number of reported hate crimes across the United States rose 17 percent in 2017. In New Jersey, the number of hate crimes reported in jumped 76 percent to 500 total incidents. Being charged with a hate crime in New Jersey is a serious event, and requires legal counsel that understands the law and what a prosecutor must prove in order to obtain a conviction. It is important to be aware of what is considered a hate crime in the state of New Jersey.

Bias Intimidation in Gloucester Township, NJ

The section of the New Jersey Criminal Code that deals with hate crimes is 2C:16-1, which is titled “Bias Intimidation.” Bias intimidation occurs when an individual commits any crime against another individual or acts with the intent to intimidate another individual because of that person’s race, color, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or ethnicity.
Bias intimidation, if successfully pleaded and argued by a prosecutor, can lead to the underlying crime on which the bias intimidation charges were based carrying higher levels of possible punishment and imprisonment. Additionally, if an individual is convicted of bias intimidation, the punishment associated with the underlying crime and the bias intimidation cannot be merged; any punishment must be served separately.

Elements of Bias Intimidation in Camden, NJ

As noted above, being found guilty of bias intimidation requires a finding that an individual committed, attempted to commit, conspired to commit, or threatened to commit one of the crimes defined in chapters 11 through 18 of Section 2C of the New Jersey Criminal Code. Most of those offenses are crimes against individuals, but certain crimes against the property of an individual are included as well. This is should not be overlooked: in order to be found guilty of bias intimidation, an individual must be found guilty of the underlying crime first.
Assuming that an individual is guilty of the underlying crime, the state must prove that the individual committed the crime:

  • With the purpose to intimidate another individual or group of individuals because of their race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or ethnicity; or
  • Knowing that the crime would cause that same individual or group to be intimidated; or
  • Under circumstances that caused any victim of the crime to be intimidated and the victim, based on the conduct of the crime, reasonably believed that the purpose of the crime was to intimidate the victim or someone close to the victim, or that the victim’s property was chosen to be the target for the purpose of intimidation.

It is important to note that the third element above, though seeming to imply that a victim believing that the crime was bias-motivated is enough to find that it was bias-motivated, has been held to still require proving that the defendant acted with the intent to intimidate.

Contact an Experienced Haddon Township Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Hate Crime Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with hate crimes in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen have successfully represented clients charged with hate crimes in Camden, Cherry Hill, Vorhees, Haddon Township, and throughout New Jersey. Call (856) 858-1500 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue, Westmont, NJ 08108.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.