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Hate Crimes in Texas

Hate crimes are on the rise in Texas.  According to an FBI report  the number of hate crimes reported in 2018 was more than 500 cases.  That’s more than doubled from 2017.

Definition of a Hate Crime

Forty-nine states and the federal government have hate crime laws.  Hate Crime in Texas is defined in Texas Penal Code 12.47 Penalty if Offense Committed Because of Bias or Prejudice.  The Texas Hate Crimes Act, Chapter 411.046 of the Texas Government Code, defines hate crimes as crimes that are motivated by prejudice, hatred, or advocacy of violence.  The FBI defines federal hate crimes as “criminal offenses that were motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against the victim’s race/ethnicity/ancestry, gender, gender identity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation, and were committed against persons, property, or society.  Some offenses that can carry the conviction of hate crimes are, among others:

  • Assault
  • Attack at a place of worship
  • Harassment
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Murder

The majority of hate crimes that occurred in Texas last year were assaults, with 127 offenses reported. There were also 60 offenses classified as intimidation and 59 classified as larceny or theft.

Legal Defense Against Hate Crime Charges

To convict someone accused of a hate crime in Texas, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that the defendant committed the crime because of the victim’s race, color, religion, or for some other prohibited reason. Proving that the defendant acted with hate crime intent can be difficult.

Hate Crimes Conviction Increases Punishment

If an affirmative finding under Article 42.014, Code of Criminal Procedure , is made in the trial of an offense other than a first degree felony or a Class A misdemeanor, the punishment for the offense is increased to the punishment prescribed for the next highest category of offense.  If the offense is a Class A misdemeanor, the minimum term of confinement for the offense is increased to 180 days.

Meet With a Williamson County Hate Crime Attorney

Hate crimes are viewed as especially heinous.  They can involve media sensationalism that can damage the accused until all the facts are uncovered.  If you are charged with a hate crime, get help from a local Williamson County criminal defense attorney.  Steve Hesse is a State Board Certified criminal lawyer in Georgetown and has a personal knowledge of the Williamson County court system.  You can call 512-930-2121 anytime for a free confidential consultation.

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