Hate Crime Laws Analysis

Hate Crime Laws Analysis Instructions For this assignment, you will read a specific hate crime example and information regarding hate crime laws. Next, a specific case is presented, in which you will need to analyze the situation and then answer the provided questions in either a Paper or Video format. You may choose the format, based on what you are more comfortable with; however, the method you choose must be clear, organized, easy to read or hear, and precise.

Getting Started: Read the example and information below. Like many other shoppers, on November 28, 2014- “Black Friday” – Chris Bujaj and Ardijan Mehaj went to the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack New York. While at the mall, the two teenagers-screaming “dirty Jews!”- attacked two Orthodox Jewish men. As a result, local prosecutors charged Bujaj and Mehaj with third degree assault as a hate crime. This meant that they each faced a maximum sentence of seven years behind bars instead of the relatively short jail term (no longer than one year) or probation usually handed down for this offense (NY Penal Law, Article 485). The philosophies behind hate crime legislation, punishes the defendant not only for acts but also for motives. Punishing Bias Nearly every state and the federal government has hate crime laws that apply when the underlying crime is committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. These laws are based on a model created by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in 1981. The ADL model was centered on the concept of “penalty enhancement”; just as someone who robs a convenience store using a gun will face a greater penalty than if he or she had been unarmed, so will someone who commits a crime because of prejudice against he or his victim or victims (Freeman, 1992). Critics of hate crimes laws feel that such “penalty enhancements” rest on shaky legal grounds. It is one thing to prove that a robber used a gun, but it is another thing to prove what was in a defendant’s mind. Even when an offender’s bias is obvious, as is the case with Chris Bujaj and Ardijan Mehaj, should it affect how many years then spend behind bars? Despite these misgivings, the United States Supreme court has upheld the constitutionality of hate crime laws as long as the prohibited motive (1) is specifically listed in the legislation as an attendant circumstance, and (2) is proved beyond a reasonable doubt during the trial (Wisconsin v. Mitchell, 1993, 508 US 476). The Case for Hate Crime Laws

• Hate crimes target groups, not just an individual-if one Muslim or Hindu in New York is attacked, for example, then all Muslims or Hindus in New York suffer intimidation and fear. Thus, such acts need to be punished more harshly.

GOVT 2350: Hate Crime Laws Analysis Page 2 of 3

• Historically, the groups listed in hate crime legislation have received inadequate protection from American criminal justice system. Hate crime law redress these shortcomings.

• Hate crimes laws do not punish a defendant’s speech or beliefs, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Rather, they allow jurors to learn whether the defendant’s speech or beliefs were the reason for the choice of victim.

The Case Against Hate Crime Laws

• Hate crime laws punish political views that, though unpopular and even appalling, are protected by the First Amendment, which states that the government shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech.”

• For the most part, motive is irrelevant in criminal law. Defendants are punished for what they did, not for why they did it.

• Hate crime laws indicated that some victims are worthy of more protection than others. It is unjust Chris Bujaj and Ardijan Mehaj would receive lesser sentences if their victims were not members of a minority group.

Assignment: Read the scenario below and answer the questions in video or Word document format. This is an opinion piece, but you must be able to clearly express what you are learning in the course content. Harold, who is white, is at a party, and he is drunk. He sees Mary, his ex-girlfriend, talking with James, who is African American. Harold knows that Mary and James have been dating for several weeks. Harold shouts racial epithets at James and is thrown out of the party. Later that night, Harold stalks James and attacks him with a baseball bat. Did Harold commit a hate crime deserving of a harsher penalty? How does this case influence your opinion of hate crime laws in general? Before responding, you can review our discussion in the sections:

• The purpose of criminal law (“The Purposes of Criminal Law”)

• Mens rea and criminal act (“The Elements of a Crime”)

• Attendant circumstance (“The Elements of a Crime”) Requirements for the Paper include:

• Title page • 1-2 pages (excluding the title page) • Current APA format for all elements within the paper

o Double-spacing o 12-point, Times New Roman font

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