Although much attention has been given to hate crimes lately, both in the media and in the courtroom, they still remain some of the hardest cases to try. Not only are they emotionally charged, cases involving hate crimes are notoriously more violent and more difficult to prosecute, which leaves victims feeling reluctant to pursue additional damages. While hate crimes are recognized by 41 states, with many of those states levying heftier sentences and penalties for proven hate crimes, many crimes go unreported and/or not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Following are a few reasons why hate crimes are especially difficult for prosecutors and victims alike.
Hate Crimes are More Violent
A hate crime occurs every hour in the United States. While most hate crimes are racially motivated, people in the LGBT community and those of certain religious groups are often targeted as well. By their nature, hate crimes are often more violent and more likely to result in a serious injury. This is likely due to the fact that hate crimes are motivated by hatred and an intense dislike for someone based on their appearance, sexual identity, ethnicity, disability or religious affiliation.
Victims are Intimidated or Silent
Many victims of hate crimes are reluctant to come forward, especially those in the LGBT community, because they don't want to acknowledge their sexual orientation. They may fear that they will have to endure additional bias coming from police officers and those within the judicial system. The sheer emotional distress experienced after a hate crime may also make victims unwilling to talk about their experience. For these reasons and more, victims may be unwilling to do the extra work necessary to prosecute and prove a hate crime.
Hate Crimes are Hard to Prosecute
Hate crimes are hard to prosecute criminally because there has to be proof that the perpetrator acted out of a deep hatred. Assaults are not generally defined as hate crimes just because the victim might happen to be gay or is a different race than the perpetrator. To prove that a hate crime occurred, prosecutors usually have to delve into the defendant's past and find evidence of a deeply-held bias, which can be difficult to do.
Hate crimes are often dealt with more severely than cases of assault. Victims of hate crimes may also seek more damages for their injuries simply because of the nature of the crime. Since many victims experience post traumatic stress disorder or intense emotions after such an attack, this is taken into account when the cases are tried.
To learn more, contact a law firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC.