A hate crime is a criminal act motivated by a bias against a person's race, color, national origin, disability, religion, ancestry, sexual preference, or status as a judge or peace officer. For those living in Dallas or throughout Texas, hate crimes are not a separate offense. However, hate crimes allow for an enhancement of punishment for other criminal acts.
The FBI considers hate crimes to be a catalyst for terrorism. Groups who commonly face hate crimes become more fearful as a community. They might begin to underreport hate crimes when they feel the law will not protect them from acts of violence. The U.S takes hate crimes seriously because when criminals do not face consequences, it can lead to widespread conflict and civil disturbance.
A hate crime increases the seriousness of a charge by one class level. For example, when someone faces a Class B misdemeanor, a hate crime can increase the charge to a Class A misdemeanor. Hate crimes can only be attached to criminal acts, such as property crime, assault, or verbal threats. However, offensive language or provocative actions may be called hate incidents rather than crimes.
To prove a hate crime, a prosecutor must show that the defendant was motivated by his or her bias or prejudice. When a criminal defense lawyer accepts a case where a client faces hate crime accusations, he or she examines the alleged crime. Crimes against a member of a minority are not hate crimes if there is no indication that the defendant acted because of preconceived notions about sexuality, race, religion, or other characteristics.
Texas law seeks to enhance punishment for hate crimes to deter people from targeting others based on prejudice. Hate crimes can weaken the relationships between people within the community and cause widespread suspicion of law enforcement and government officials.
Expungement for hate crimes can be a more challenging and controversial process, as these offenses involve acts of prejudice or discrimination based on a victim's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristics. The legal system often treats hate crimes more severely due to the significant harm they cause to individuals and communities. As a result, obtaining expungement for such offenses may require additional steps and scrutiny. An expungement lawyer with experience in these specific cases can provide invaluable assistance, helping clients navigate the intricacies of the process and advocating for their rights. It is crucial to note, however, that expungement for hate crimes is not universally available and depends on the jurisdiction's laws and the specific circumstances of the case.