The term hate crime has a strong negative connotation. It is a forceful accusation to make against someone. It is not only a crime under Louisiana law, but it is also a federal crime.
A hate crime involves the act of causing or attempting to cause physical injury to another person due to that person's race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, whether these personal characteristics are real or just perceived.
There are long-term consequences for a hate crime conviction, including imprisonment of up to ten years in addition to a hefty fine. Moreover, if death, kidnapping or sexual abuse supposedly result or are attempted in connection with an alleged hate crime, a defendant could be sentenced to life in prison.
These crimes may be pursued under state or federal law, though federal charges will not be pursued unless certain requirements are met. Some circumstances in which federal charges may be pursued for a possible hate crime in Louisiana include cases where Louisiana does not have jurisdiction over the crime or when Louisiana requests that the Federal Government assume jurisdiction. Additionally, federal prosecutors may pursue charges if they believe it is in the public's interest to do so.
When an alleged hate crime results in death, there is no statute of limitations to when federal prosecutors may pursue charges. When an alleged hate crime does not result in death, federal prosecutors must pursue charges within seven years from the date on which the accused allegedly committed the offense.
The potential penalties for a person convicted of a hate crime are severe, as is the potential damage to a person's reputation and freedom. An aggressive and thorough defense may aid a person accused of a hate crime in protecting his or her rights. Understanding legal defense options could help a defendant fight the charges, helping them to possibly reduce or even dismiss all or some of the charges against them.
Source: Law.cornell.edu, "18 U.S. Code Sec. 249," accessed May 8, 2015