Murder and Hate Crimes
Facing Hate Crimes in Pennsylvania
Learn about what hate crimes are in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing a hate crime related homicide is a pivotable moment in a person’s life. Is it the time to reach out to an inexperienced criminal attorney or a former prosecutor who touts his convictions but lacks experience gaining murder acquittals? Before it’s too late, call our team. Facing third degree murder charges anywhere in Pennsylvania and need help, call the Ciccarelli Legal Team at (610) 692-8700.
Getting the Best Defense where you are facing Murder Charges
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you are facing a murder in the greater Philadelphia metro area, including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. Then ask yourself, why you are not calling now and scheduling a time to meet with the Ciccarelli Legal Team. Call now at (610) 692-8700.
Our team of lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to fight for you. When the threat of prosecution for homicide and murder is real, you need to look for the best options and find a top murder defense team serving Chester County and beyond. Based in West Chester (Chester County) in the Philadelphia Metro Area, the Ciccarelli Legal Team defends the rights of murder and homicide defendants throughout Pennsylvania.
Information on a Chester County Hate Crimes
According to Pennsylvania Real Time News, a recent article concluded that hate crime convictions seem to be an “afterthought” in the state. At the other end of the spectrum, the Pennsylvania ACLU believes police officers are using hate crime laws to punish those who get angry when they are arrested. In one case—which clearly illustrates the point of view of the Pennsylvania Real Time News—a white man in a bar hit a black man on the head with a beer bottle, slashing his arm with a knife, and throwing in racial slurs and “We don’t like your type here,” for good measure. A plea agreement was reached in which the aggressor pled guilty to assault, but the hate crime charges were all dropped.
Whichever side you identify with, the fact is that hate crimes seldom make it into Pennsylvania state crime statistics, resulting in a chronically low annual reporting rate of hate crimes in the state which has some 12.7 million residents. In fact, when compared to other states of the same size, the state’s sixty-one reported hate crimes during 2016 fell well below the average. Some believe that local police departments often fail to recognize and identify hate crimes and that more training for the officers is necessary.
Others believe that state-by-state comparisons tend to be misleading and that those who commit hate crimes in Pennsylvania are being punished, however the crimes are not be classified in the same way as other states do. What is known is that out of the 144 hate-crime offenses filed in the state of Pennsylvania in 2017, 91 were either withdrawn, dismissed, or declined to prosecute.
What About Hate Crimes That Result in Murder?
The vast majority of statistics on hate crimes are for those which go hand in hand with lesser offenses; Pennsylvania does have a crime on the books known as ethnic intimidation, which is, essentially, the same as a hate crime. Under Pennsylvania state law, the criminal offense of ethnic intimidation does not exist on its own, rather must be filed alongside another criminal offense, making it somewhat of an “add-on criminal offense.
In other words, if the police believe the motivation for a criminal offense is malice and hatred due to the victim’s national origin, religion, race or color, then along with the other charges, ethnic intimidation charges will also be filed. The crimes which typically accompany ethnic intimidation include aggravated assault, simple assault, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, arson, and other property crimes, although the charge can be filed along with a murder charge.
Penalties for Ethnic Intimidation Crimes
If a person is charged with aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation, the ethnic intimidation charge will be graded one degree higher than the underlying offense—aggravated assault in this example. Suppose the underlying offense is criminal mischief, which is merely a summary offense, the ethnic intimidation charge which accompanies the criminal mischief charge would be a third-degree misdemeanor.
In the same vein, if a terroristic threat—a first-degree misdemeanor—was motivated by racial hatred, the accompanying ethnic intimidation charge would be a third-degree felony charge. So, if a murder would normally be classified as a third-degree murder, however it is determined that the murder was racially motivated, and falls under the ethnic intimidation laws, then the offender could be charged with second-degree murder, which is quite a leap as far as penalties go. A second-degree murder conviction could conceivably result in life in prison, while a third-degree murder conviction has a maximum penalty of twenty years.
Changing the Laws in the State Regarding Hate Crimes
At this point in time, although some Pennsylvania lawmakers have attempted to change the laws regarding hate crimes, there is plenty of resistance. Currently, only ethnic and religious groups are protected by ethnic intimidation laws, with crimes which are motivated by hatred of sexual orientation, disability, gender, sexual identification or political orientation are not included. In fact, the laws were amended in 2002 to include protections against hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and actual or perceived mental or physical disability, however the change was deemed unconstitutional due to the way it was passed through the legislature.
Of the 60 cases in the state in 2016 which included the charge of ethnic intimidation, 77 percent of the defendants were male, and 70 percent were white. More than 40 percent of those 60 cases were filed in Allegheny or Philadelphia counties, and more than 40 of the state’s 67 counties filed no hate crime charges in 2016. If you have been charged with a hate crime (ethnic intimidation) along with murder charges, you are facing extremely serious charges with extremely serious penalties. To ensure your rights are fully protected and that you receive a vigorous defense, it is essential that you have an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney by your side from start to finish.
Get The “Right Defense” When facing Pennsylvania Murder Charges
When you or a loved one is facing murder allegations or charges, gain the benefit and experience of the Ciccarelli Legal Team. Our team brings years of experience defending clients, demanding justice and fighting for acquittals. Our team is ready to represent you when you are facing homicide and murder charges in Pennsylvania. We are based in based in suburban Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us at (610) 692-8700.