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A Brief Overview of Hate Crimes

Abuse 2 1A hate crime is defined as a criminal offense that is carried out due to an underlying prejudice or hostility towards a particular person or group of people. If the motivation for the crime was because of disability, religion, sexual orientation, or race, this could be classified as a hate crime. If a judge rules that a criminal act is a hate crime, they can impose a more severe sentence on the defendant under the Criminal Justice Act of 2003.
Examples of hate crimes can stem from other criminal acts, such as:

  • assault – physically attacking another person
  • criminal damage – causing destruction or vandalizing another person’s property
  • harassment – behavior that causes upset or offense to others
  • causing alarm or distress
  • murder
  • sexual assault
  • theft – taking property from another person without their consent or knowledge
  • fraud – the intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful advantages or gains, or to deprive a person of their legal right(s)
  • burglary – illegally entering a building or premises with the intention to commit a crime
  • sending hate mail 

What are South Carolina’s hate crime laws?
South Carolina is unusual in that federal laws define its hate crimes, meaning it is one of the few states that doesn’t have their own hate crime laws. Some South Carolina laws do, however, relate to hate crimes, such as:
S.C.  Code Ann. § 16-5-10: felony to conspire to deprive a person of civil rights
S.C.  Code Ann. § 16-7-120:  crime of cross burning
S.C.  Code Ann. § 16-11-535: crime of injuring a place of worship
S.C.  Code Ann. § 16-11-110: arson, including against a place of worship
Some lawmakers, however, are hopeful that South Carolina will soon pass a hate crime bill of its own and there is currently a proposal in consideration that would make it a felony for a person to assault, threaten, or intimidate another based on their religion, age, sexual orientation, race, religion, origin, or if they are homeless.
Sentencing for hate crimes
Sentencing for hate crimes can vary widely depending on the nature of the crime and other persons involved. If bodily injury occurs or if such acts of intimidation involve the use of firearms, explosives, or fire, a person could be incarcerated for up to 10 years. A person who is found guilty of a hate crime involving kidnapping, sexual assault, or murder could be sent to prison for life, or even, in some states, receive the death penalty. 
If you someone you know have been accused of a hate crime, it can be a frightening and stressful experience. Being accused of or arrested for a hate crime is very serious, and hiring a professional lawyer to help ensure your rights are protected is a smart move. If you would like more advice or would like to schedule a confidential consultation, get in touch with the lawyers at the Complete Legal Defense Team at (843) 593-9739 today.

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