In recent years, hate crimes—also known as bias-motivated crimes—have become more prevalent. According to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there has been a 17 percent increase in hate crimes in the United States in 2017.
A hate crime is defined as a criminal offense that targets a specific individual based on their race, religions, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, disability, class or political affiliation. Common types of hate crimes include harassment, bullying, damage of property, vandalism, assault, and even murder.
A person commits a hate crime in Colorado if—with intent to harass or intimidate another individual due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.—he/she:
- Knowingly causes bodily harm to someone else
- Knowingly damages or destroys another person’s property
- Through words or actions, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent bodily harm or property damage
Knowingly damaging or destroying another person’s property and knowingly—through words or actions—placing another person in fear of imminent bodily harm or property damage (harassment) are considered Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum 18-month jail term and a fine not exceeding $5,000.
Knowingly causing bodily harm to another person is a Class 5 felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to three years and a maximum $100,000 fine. However, if the crime was aided or abetted by one or more other individuals, it is a Class 4 felony that is punishable by a maximum six-year prison sentence and a fine no more than $500,000.
Due to the rise in hate crimes and the national attention these offenses receive in the media, many people find themselves facing false hate crime allegations. Mere accusations can still lead to severe damage to a person’s reputation and personal life.
If you have been accused of a hate crime in Denver, contact Orr Law Firm today at (303) 747-4247 and schedule a free case evaluation.