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:
- Sexual orientation
- 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.