Crimes that are committed against people because of their race, religion, color, ethnicity, ancestry, disability, or other characteristics may be considered hate crimes. These crimes can include:
- Vandalism or damage to property
- Harassment, stalking or communicating threats
If it is determined that these acts were carried out against a person on the basis of any of the characteristics listed above, the suspect can face prosecution not just for the act itself, but also for the commission of a hate crime.
Penalties for Hate Crimes
A first-offense hate crime is considered a misdemeanor. This means that in addition to the penalties imposed for the crime itself, you could face additional penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Second and subsequent hate crimes are charged as felonies. If convicted, you could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Oklahoma vs. Federal Hate Crime Laws
Currently, Oklahoma does not consider crimes committed against a person on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation as hate crimes. However, the federal government does. This means that, although you may not be prosecuted by the state, you can face federal prosecution for committing this type of hate crime.
Defending Hate Crimes
Hate crimes are prosecuted very aggressively at both the state and federal levels. An experienced defense attorney can mount a strong defense for your case and ensure your rights are upheld throughout the process.