How are terrorism and hate crimes different?

When people are attacked for any reason, there is a chance that criminal charges could be placed against the attacker. The circumstances of the case dictate what charges are possible. In some cases, a person might be charged with a hate crime or with terrorism. Understanding the line that divides these charges is crucial for people who are facing them.

What is terrorism?

Terrorism is an attack or threat of an attack that is meant to make a political statement. An attack or threat that is made with the intent to intimidate could also be considered terrorism.

What is a hate crime?

A hate crime is an attack or threat that is made based on the victim's age, race, religious affiliation, status, or other similar factors. Interestingly, the federal government doesn't include sexual preference as one of the possible reasons for a hate crime. There are, however, 17 states that do consider this as a reason for a crime to be considered a hate crime.

What happens if an attack could be construed as both?

While it might seem like some attacks could meet both definitions, this isn't usually the case. The reason for the attack and the victims who were attacked usually make it fairly simple to distinguish between hate crimes and terrorism.

For people who are facing charges for hate crimes or terrorism, the penalties are serious. You should make sure that you understand the points that the prosecution is using in its case so that you can determine how to battle against these charges. Some of these cases might be complex, but a defense is usually possible.

Source: FindLaw, "What's the Difference Between Hate Crimes and Terrorism?," Christopher Coble, accessed Nov. 04, 2016

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