Criminal allegations can change the course of a Baton Rouge resident's life, particularly when those allegations involve the alleged commission of a felony. As previously discussed on this Louisiana criminal defense legal blog a felony charge can result in a more severe sentence upon conviction than a sentence based on a conviction for a misdemeanor charge.
One way that a felony crime may be made more serious is through the inclusion of a hate crime designation. A hate crime is a crime in which harm or intimidation are inflicted upon another person because of the alleged victim's race, religion, disability or inclusion in another protected class. Arson, assault, murder and other serious criminal charges can be made into hate crimes if they were prompted by alleged intolerance toward others due to the alleged victims' inclusion in protected classes.
If a felony is found to be a hate crime the alleged criminal may face significantly more serious sanctions than if the crime had not been found to be based on bigotry and prejudice. Laws that promulgate hate crime legislation exist due to the public interest in preventing the marginalization and vulnerability of individuals who may feel that they already operate outside of social norms.
It can be both legally and emotionally hard for a person to overcome a charge that includes a hate crime designation. However, just as other crimes require that a prosecutor demonstrates an alleged criminal's intent toward committing an alleged crime so too must a prosecutor show that a person targeted a particular alleged victim due to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin or other class inclusion. Hate crimes cannot simply be assumed: prosecutors must prove their cases in order to succeed, and defendants may plead their defenses to the hate crime charges filed against them. Though every case will proceed based on its own facts and merits it is possible for individuals to confront their felony-based hate crime charges and work toward securing their freedom after their criminal trial.