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Understanding Consequences of Hate Crimes

Hate crimes, or bias-motivated crimes, are criminal acts committed because of a person’s race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or disability. The motive behind the particular act is the main difference between hate crimes and other crimes. These crimes can range anywhere from assault, rape, and murder to vandalism, robbery, and harassment.  It’s crucial to understand the consequences of hate crimes if you are facing, or at risk, charges.

Charges in Wisconsin

The charges for hate crimes vary on their level of significance, from misdemeanor to felony. The motive of hate behind the crime has added consequences to regular misdemeanors and felonies.

  • Misdemeanors, excluding Class A: an added year in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.
  • Class A misdemeanors: an added 2 years imprisonment and fine of $10,000.
  • Felony: added 5 years of imprisonment and added fine of no more than $5,000.

It’s important to remember that these consequences listed are added onto the charge you would receive without the hate motive.

Role of the FBI

The FBI may include themselves in investigation of a hate crime, even if federal charges are not brought. They take several steps to combat hate crimes. These include investigative activities, law enforcement support, and prosecution. The FBI will would closely with state and local authorities on investigations. When the prosecution begins, the Department of Justice monitors the proceedings to ensure the law is applied equally. After investigations are completed, the results are sent to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. If local authorities are unable to prosecute a crime, it may move forward to the federal level.

Proving Intent

A crime against someone with a specific race, religion, or sexual orientation is not necessarily always a hate crime. If there is evidence behind a hate crime, then it could be added to your charges, regardless of your true intent. There are various ways intent can be proven:

  • Derogatory slurs spoken by defendant
  • Defendant’s personal writings, graffiti, tattoos
  • Literature or symbols displaying bias owned by defendant
  • Defendant belonging to a bias associated group


Defending a hate crime is possible. Various ways to defend hate crimes include:

  • Insufficient evidence
  • Proving mistaken identity
  • Showing crime was not motivated by bias

If you are charged with a hate crime, it’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney. At Hart Law Office, our experienced attorneys defend clients against a wide range of misdemeanor and felony charges. Our attorneys can protect your rights and build a defense for you. Contact us for a free consultation.

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