Hate Crime Charges in Connecticut
In Connecticut as in other states and the nation at large, words or actions that might otherwise constitute a misdemeanor crime rise to the level of a serious felony offense when motivated by bigotry or bias against another person or group’s race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. When such a combination of actions, motivations, and parties are present, the words or acts at issue may be prosecuted as a hate crime. As a serious felony offense, a hate crime is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence and fine of several thousand dollars. If you have been charged with a hate crime in Connecticut, your reputation, personal freedom, and financial standing demand that you counter the charges with effective legal representation.
Intimidation is at the Core of Hate Crimes in Connecticut
The reason Connecticut punishes hate crimes so severely is to deter individuals from harassing perceived members of groups that have been historically disfavored in American society. Through deterrence, vulnerable classes are afforded protection. Specifically, protected status applies to:
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender identity.
If you attack, threaten, harass, destroy or otherwise target a person or group on the basis of one of the above factors, you may be properly charged with a hate crime rather than lesser crimes such as assault or vandalism.
The Three Degrees of Hate Crimes in Connecticut
There are three degrees of hate crimes in Connecticut, with the third degree form being a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of as much as $2,000, and the first degree form being a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. As with other crimes, the severity of penalties increases when words are paired with actions and serious physical injury or death results. This is especially the case with regard to violent crimes, such as robbery, arson, and murder. When such serious felony offenses are accompanied by hate crime charges, additional years may be added to an already lengthy prison sentence.
Holding the State’s Prosecutors to a High Burden of Proof
In defending against a hate crime charge in Connecticut, an experienced Fairfield County criminal defense attorney will advocate for your legal rights, resisting the state’s contentions regarding animosity towards members of protected classes, and holding the prosecution to the high “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof standard. For your freedom and reputation, rely on an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney.