Last Thursday two Massachusetts men were charged with committing hate crimes against two Muslim families of Middle Eastern descent. Boston.com reported that Adam Bonito of Revere and Christopher Giaquinto of Winthrop repeatedly vandalized and damaged cars parked in front of a duplex where the victim lived. One of the counts stems from an incident in September of 2004 where the defendants purportedly broke a windshield and several windows on a Nissan van parked outside the home. In January and March of 2005 Bonito vandalized another van in front of the house where the victim lived. Read Full Article, Boston.com September 26, 2008.
A press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in Boston stated that the two men were charged with carrying out a criminal conspiracy that interfered with the fair housing rights of the Muslim families. The prosecution contends that “it was the plan and purpose of the conspiracy to vandalize a van, believed to belong to one of the residents, in order to interfere with the victim’s housing rights because of race.” The press release goes on to state that if convicted the defendants face one year in prison and a $100,000.00 fine.
Hate crime laws are designed to protect anyone in a particular jurisdiction against crimes that are motivated by hostility towards a particular designated group. The federal statute provides for prosecutions of hate crimes committed towards a person’s race, religion, color or national origin provided the victims are engaging in federal protected activities.
Massachusetts has enacted several hate crimes statutes. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6 Section 116 B mandates police training for hate crimes. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 98 criminalizes vandalizing schoolhouse, church or other building erected or used for purposes of education or religious instruction. Penalties for a conviction of the preceding law can amount to 5 years in state prison depending on the extent of the damage done. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 39 makes an assault and battery or damaging property a crime if it is done with the intent to intimidate the victim because of his race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. Punishment for a conviction under this section can amount to 2 1/2 years in prison. If however bodily injury results from the commission of this crime you face 5 years in prison. If the crime is committed by someone carrying a firearm there is a potential 10 year state prison sentence. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 37 makes it a crime to interfere with one’s constitutional rights. There is a maximum 1 year jail sentence for violating this law unless bodily injury occurs. In that case you could be looking at 10 years in prison.
Massachusetts prosecutors and judges take hate crimes seriously. That is why if you are charged with one of these offense you must make sure you hire an experienced Massachusetts Hate Crimes Defense Lawyer. Everyone in this country has the right to live free of fear and intimidation regardless of their race, religion, color or national origin. However there are times when people exploit their differences and falsely accused others of acting in a race based or prejudiced manner. It is the job of a criminal defense attorney to show a judge or a jury that the actions were not race based or motivated by prejudices in any way. Attorney Stephen Neyman has been successful in defending hate crimes cases and getting many of those cases dismissed.
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