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Hate Crimes in New York City

The term "hate crimes" refers to criminal acts against "victims [who] are intentionally selected, in whole or in part, because of their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation." Penal Law § 485.00. These cases are also called "bias related crimes."

Rochelle S. Berliner believes that no matter how serious the accusation, the person accused deserves a zealous advocate fighting for the best result in their case. Any charge of committing a hate crime comes with the possibility of serious penalties and punishments.

Queens Lawyer for Hate Crime Accusations

If you have been charged with or are under investigation for a hate crime, then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner. With offices located in Queens County, NY, Rochelle Berliner represents clients on a myriad of serious felony charges throughout New York City including Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

Call 718-261-5600 today for a free consultation to discuss the particular facts of your case.


Overview of Hate Crime Law in New York


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History of New York's Hate Crime Legislation

New York's Hate Crime Act took effect in 2000. It was patterned after a model statute published by the Anti-Defamation League and a similar statute in the State of Wisconsin. In explaining the policy decisions behind the legislation, the legislature found that:

"[h]ate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs. Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities and vitiate the civility that is essential to healthy democratic processes."
Penal Law § 485.00.

As New York's Attorney General, in support of the hate crime legislation, stated:

"[b]y employing this new law to the fullest, our government will send a powerful message to victims and others like them that, regardless of personal characteristics or lifestyle, they are valued members of the community, and will make clear to victimizers that this state does not tolerate hatred founded upon bias and prejudice."
N.Y. Bill Jacket, 2000 AB 30002, ch. 107, Mem. of Atty. Gen.

The Legislature in New York wanted to strengthen the existing laws that did "not adequately recognize the harm to public order and individual safety that hate crimes cause. Therefore, our laws must be strengthened to provide clear recognition of the gravity of hate crimes and the compelling importance of preventing their recurrence." Id.


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Enhanced Penalties and Punishments for Hate Crimes

Specific enhanced penalties apply to hate crimes for both a class A-I felony and a class B felony. For an A-I felony, the minimum period of imprisonment is 20 years instead of 15. The enhanced penalties for a class B felony are as follows:

  • Second violent felony offender - Determinate sentence of at least 12 years instead of 10 years;
  • Second felony offender who stands convicted of a violent felony offense - Determinate sentence of at least 10 years instead of 8 years;
  • All other second felony offenders - Maximum indeterminate sentence of 10 years intend of 9 years;
  • First violent felony offender - Determinate sentence of at least 8 years instead of 5 years; and
  • All other first felony offender - Maximum indeterminate sentence of at least 6 years instead of 3 years.

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Two Alternative Ways to Prove a Hate Crime in New York

A hate crime can be committed in one of two different ways. Both ways of proving the crime require that the defendant committed an underlying "specified offense" listed in Penal Law § 485.05(3). First, a hate crime can be committed by intentionally selecting the "person" who will be the victim of the crime, in whole or in substantial part, because of a belief or perception regarding the person's protected class of:

  • race;
  • color;
  • national origin;
  • ancestry;
  • gender;
  • religion;
  • religious practice;
  • age of 60 or more;
  • disability such as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; or
  • sexual orientation.

See Penal Law § 485.05[1][a].

Second, a hate crime can be committed by intentionally committing a specified offense "in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct." See Penal Law § 485.05[1][b].


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Hate Crimes Can Be Committed Against a Person or Association of People

In some cases, the hate crime is not directed at a certain person, but at a group of people. The courts have determined that the statute was intended to apply to a crime against an individual person or a group, under certain limited circumstances. Part of the reason for this interpretation of the statute was because the term "person" is defined to mean "a human being, and where appropriate, a public or private corporation, an unincorporated association, a partnership, a government or a governmental instrumentality." Penal Law § 10.00[7].

Additionally, by its very terms the specified offenses include crimes against property such as arson, trespass, burglary and grand larceny. This fact, combined with the fact that the prohibited conduct includes crimes that are motivated by a belief or perception of another person's religion means, for example, that crimes against a house of worship could be included. See People v. Assi, 14 N.Y.3d 335, 340-41, 928 N.E.2d 388, 391 (2010)(crime directed at building but true targets were the congregation that owned a synagogue).


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Hate Crimes for Destruction of Property

Criminal acts involving the "destruction of property" can qualify as hate crimes. New York City's memorandum in support of the Hate Crimes bill used the defacement of a synagogue or the desecration of a religious statue as an example of a hate crime. See Mem. of Mayor of New York City, Bill Jacket, L. 2000, ch. 107, at 12. Other commentators found that one purpose of the bill was to prohibit the rise in bias-related property destruction. See Budget Rep. on Bills, Bill Jacket, L. 2000, ch. 107, at 3; Mem. of Attorney General, Bill Jacket, L. 2000, ch. 107, at 5.


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Specified Offenses that Constitute Hate Crimes

The Act requires enhanced sentences for more than 50 different offenses that range from harassment to murder. The specified offenses also include the "attempted" or "conspiracy to commit" version of the offenses. The specified offenses include:

Harassment

  • section 240.25 (harassment in the first degree)
  • subdivision one, two or four of section 240.30 (aggravated harassment in the second degree)

Stalking

  • section 120.45 (stalking in the fourth degree)
  • section 120.50 (stalking in the third degree)
  • section 120.55 (stalking in the second degree)
  • section 120.60 (stalking in the first degree)

Reckless Endangerment

  • section 120.20 (reckless endangerment in the second degree)
  • section 120.25 (reckless endangerment in the first degree)
  • section 121.12 (strangulation in the second degree)
  • section 121.13 (strangulation in the first degree)

Menacing

  • section 120.13 (menacing in the first degree)
  • section 120.14 (menacing in the second degree)
  • section 120. 15 (menacing in the third degree);

Assault

  • section 120.00 (assault in the third degree)
  • section 120.05 (assault in the second degree)
  • section 120.10 (assault in the first degree)
  • section 120.12 (aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old)

Unlawful Imprisonment and Kidnapping

  • section 135.05 (unlawful imprisonment in the second degree)
  • section 135.10 (unlawful imprisonment in the first degree)
  • section 135.20 (kidnapping in the second degree)
  • section 135.25 (kidnapping in the first degree)

Coercion

  • section 135.60 (coercion in the second degree)
  • section 135.65 (coercion in the first degree)

Robbery

  • section 160.05 (robbery in the third degree
  • section 160.10 (robbery in the second degree)
  • section 160.15 (robbery in the first degree)

Trespass and Burglary

  • section 140.10 (criminal trespass in the third degree)
  • section 140.15 (criminal trespass in the second degree)
  • section 140.17 (criminal trespass in the first degree)
  • section 140.20 (burglary in the third degree)
  • section 140.25 (burglary in the second degree)
  • section 140.30 (burglary in the first degree);

Criminal Mischief

  • section 145.00 (criminal mischief in the fourth degree)
  • section 145.05 (criminal mischief in the third degree)
  • section 145.10 (criminal mischief in the second degree)
  • section 145.12 (criminal mischief in the first degree);

Arson

  • section 150.05 (arson in the fourth degree)
  • section 150.10 (arson in the third degree)
  • section 150.15 (arson in the second degree)
  • section 150.20 (arson in the first degree)

Larceny

  • section 155.25 (petit larceny)
  • section 155.30 (grand larceny in the fourth degree)
  • section 155.35 (grand larceny in the third degree)
  • section 155.40 (grand larceny in the second degree)
  • section 155.42 (grand larceny in the first degree);

Sexual Abuse Related Crimes

  • subdivision one of section 130.35 (rape in the first degree)
  • subdivision one of section 130.50 (criminal sexual act in the first degree)
  • subdivision one of section 130.65 (sexual abuse in the first degree)
  • paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section 130.67 (aggravated sexual abuse in the second degree)
  • paragraph (a) of subdivision one of section 130.70 (aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree);

Murder and Manslaughter

  • subdivision one of section 125.15 (manslaughter in the second degree)
  • subdivision one, two or four of section 125.20 (manslaughter in the first degree)
  • section 125.25 (murder in the second degree)

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Resources for Hate Crimes

Resources for Victims of Hate Crimes - Tips from the Manhattan District Attorney's Office on reporting bias-related crime to local police precincts and the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. The District Attorney's Office will often dispatch senior investigators to interview victims and witnesses and gather evidence. The Hate Crime Hotline lets the public contact the Task Force directly.

Hate Crimes Unit of the New York County District Attorney's Office
One Hogan Place
New York, NY 10013
212-335-3100

 

Advisor to the District Attorney for GLBT Issues
80 Centre Street, Room 864
New York, NY 10013
212-335-9291

 

NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038
646-610-5267

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Attorney in New York City Discussing Prosecutions for Hate Crimes

For more information on hate crime prosecutions contact a Queens criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner. With offices conveniently located in Forest Hills in Queens, Rochelle Berliner represents clients on a variety of different serious felony assault charges throughout New York City, including Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.

Call 718-261-5600 or submit an online form today for a free consultation to discuss the particular facts of your case today.

Free Consultation

Submit your information using this form to schedule a free consultation with attorney Rochelle Berliner.

Name* Phone* Email* Subject* Message*

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