What is a hate crime?
Hate crimes are offenses perpetrated against another person because of his or her race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. Not all crimes committed against one of these groups is considered a hate crime, however. To constitute a hate crime, the illegal act must have been committed because the victim belongs to one of the above groups, and a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime was committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. A hate crime can be a separate crime in and of itself (such as interfering with a person’s civil rights) or it can be a sentence enhancer, i.e. it increases the level of punishment for one crime if it was committed with a hate-crime purpose.