Ethnic Intimidation Vs. Hate Crime: What You Need To Know

January 12, 2021

Ethnic Intimidation Vs. Hate Crime: What You Need To Know

In 2019, there were 41 reported hate crimes across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While many of us think of hate crimes as a matter of crimes perpetrated because of a person’s race, gender, or sexuality, hate crimes occur for a variety of reasons. One of the most interchanged terms that are used in criminal law is that of ethnic intimidation and hate crimes. But what’s the difference and how do the charges vary? The Scranton criminal defense attorneys of Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano explain ethnic intimidation versus hate crime.

Ethnic Intimidation

Under Pennsylvania Title 18 Section 2710, “A person commits the offense of ethnic intimidation if, with malicious intention toward the race, color, religion or national origin of another individual or group of individuals, he commits an offense under any other provision of this article.”

This may include acts of arson, criminal mischief, property destruction, criminal trespass, assault, etc. Should someone be found guilty of ethnic intimidation in Pennsylvania, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor of the third degree if the accompanying offense is a summary offense. Otherwise, the offense is a degree higher than the classification of the other offense which was committed in conjunction with ethnic intimidation.

Hate Crime

In Pennsylvania, a hate crime is “a criminal act motivated by ill will or hatred towards a victim’s race, color, religion or national origin.” Hate crimes are considered acts of ethnic intimidation–this is because when certain criminal offenses are committed and the motive is hate towards a person’s status in a protected class, the crime of ethnic intimidation can be charged as well.

Ethnic Intimidation Vs. Hate Crimes: Examples

Should the motive be hate towards a person who belongs to a protected class, the crime becomes ethnic intimidation. Examples of such hate crimes include:

  • Harassment
  • Physical assault
  • Destruction of Property
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Arson or Firebombing
  • Terroristic Threats

It is important to know that the motive must be hate which causes the person to commit the crime; it is not enough that while in the process of committing a crime, the perpetrator calls the victim a derogatory name to become a hate crime.

In addition, if a suspect uses offensive and derogatory names towards another, but does not place them in fear of harm to themselves or their property, it is not ethnic intimidation.

In recent times, the issue of free speech vs. hate crime has been debated. If the accused was only using derogatory language, but not creating immediate fear, the cases will often be listed as free speech–however, involvement in a hate group can complicate matters.

Hate Crimes, Ethnic Intimidation: Mazzoni, Karam Petorak & Valvano

In today’s world, more people find themselves wondering if their free speech can be interpreted as ethnic intimidation. That’s why if you have been charged with a hate crime, you need a strong legal defense. Contact Mazzoni, Karam Petorak & Valvano today.

When the stakes are high, you need the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. If you are facing a hate crime charge in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, or Pike counties, don’t wait another second. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano today.

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