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Hate Crime Defense

Being charged with a hate crime has serious implications. (The exact criminal charge is referred to as bias intimidation.) Not only could you be at risk for fines and prison time, but these types of accusations can jeopardize friendships and relationships with loved ones, and they can even jeopardize your career. Therefore, if you have been charged with or arrested for a hate crime, you need to do everything you possibly can to protect yourself, and you will need an experienced New Jersey bias intimidation attorney in your corner.

What Constitutes a Hate Crime Under New Jersey Law?

A criminal offense constitutes a hate crime in New Jersey when committed against an individual based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity. Hate crimes are also known as bias crimes, and New Jersey’s hate crime statute, N.J.S.A. Section 2C:16-1, specifically refers to these crimes as “bias intimidation.”

New Jersey’s bias intimidation statute applies to most types of criminal offenses. This includes violent crimes, weapons offenses, sexual assault crimes, property crimes, and harassment — among others.  It applies specifically when one of these crimes is committed:

  • With the purpose of intimidating an individual or group of individuals due to bias;
  • With knowledge that the offense would cause an individual or group of individuals to be intimidated because of their personal characteristics; or,
  • Under circumstances that cause the victim or victims to be intimidated, and the victim or victims reasonably believed that they were targeted based on their race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity. While the New Jersey Supreme Court has voided this portion of the statute, where liability is dependent on the victim’s reasonable belief, for failure to comport with due process, the other sections could nonetheless apply and would typically be charged in any event.  

What are the Penalties for Hate Crimes in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the penalties for hate crimes under N.J.S.A. Section 2C:16-1 are determined based on the severity of the underlying offense. Committing a bias intimidation crime increases the grading of the charge as well as the penalties that are on the table:

  • If the underlying offense is a petty disorderly persons offense or a disorderly persons offense, then bias intimidation is a fourth-degree indictable crime. These crimes carry up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • If the underlying offense is a fourth, third, or second-degree indictable crime, then bias intimidation is a crime one degree higher than the underlying offense. These crimes carry potential sentences ranging from 3 to 20 years in prison and $15,000 to $150,000 in fines.
  • If the underlying offense is a first-degree indictable crime, then bias intimidation remains a first-degree offense.  

Discuss Your Case with a New Jersey Bias Intimidation Attorney in Confidence

Have you been charged with a hate crime in New Jersey? If so, you need experienced legal representation, and you will want to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule an initial consultation with a New Jersey hate crime defense lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal court cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609-685-0665.

 

 

 

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