Definition of a Hate Crime

A hate crime is any scenario wherein a person committed a crime specifically because of the identity of the alleged victim. However, evidence of an alleged victim’s identity alone is insufficient to obtain a conviction under this law. The prosecution needs to prove that the defendant committed the crime specifically because of who the alleged victim was.

What Makes a Criminal Accusation in Syracuse a Hate Crime?

New York Penal Law §485.05 defines a hate crime as any criminal activity that targets another person because of their:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Disability
  • National origin

The statute goes on to say that a crime can never be assumed to be a hate crime. Instead, it is the responsibility of the prosecutor in the case to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the underlying criminal act was committed directly because of the defendant’s beliefs about the alleged victim.

Alternatively, the prosecutor may prove that the defendant committed the crime simply because of who the alleged victim was. For example, if you were to commit a robbery of a convenience store with the express purpose of intimidating people of a Hispanic background, this may considered be a hate crime.

How Hates Crimes in Syracuse are Charged

The court cannot charge you with a specific criminal offense for a “hate crime” under New York Penal Law. Instead, the designation of “hate crime” is an aggravating factor that might accentuate penalties for otherwise illegal activity. Specifically, this aggravating factor makes the punishments for conviction one level more severe than they otherwise would be.

For example, under NYPL §120.00, Assault in the Third Degree is a class A misdemeanor normally punishable by up to one year in jail. However, if this incident is classified as a hate crime, the potential penalties rise to those for a class E felony.

Speak with a Syracuse Hate Crimes Attorney Today

Allegations that a crime was motivated by hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other immutable characteristic instantly make criminal accusations much more serious. Even relatively minor incidents can rise to the level of serious felonies if the prosecution is able to prove that the crime was motivated by someone’s racial, religious, or sexual identity.

For this reason, it could be essential that, if you are facing allegations of hate crimes, you defend yourself at every opportunity. Hiring a Syracuse hate crimes lawyer to handle your case could be a powerful first step, as the legal team at Tully Rinckey PLLC could work to disprove not only that the incident was motivated by hate, but also defend you against the criminal charges at the core of your case.

Don’t take any unnecessary chances—contact us today to see how we could help you. We are available by phone at 8885294543 or by email at

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