In Queens, New York, prosecutors are beginning to classify non-violent crimes against the elderly as hate crimes. Typically, hate crimes are when a defendant commits a violent crime against someone because of their gender, sexual orientation or race. But since 2005, at least 5 Queens defendants have either plead guilty to or been convicted of non-violent hate crimes against the elderly.
For example, there was a recent incident in New York where three elderly men were taken advantage of by two women. The women befriended the men and eventually used their credit cards for dental work and even to purchase a kidney on the black market.
This novel approach by New York prosecutors is being watched closely by other state district attorneys. Defendants view the elderly as a group of people that are relatively easy to take advantage of. In New York, a non-hate crime theft of less than $1 million carries no mandatory prison time. If the crime is upgraded to a hate crime, the defendant must serve between 1 and 25 years in jail.
Hate crime laws vary by state. In New York, the statute reads a hate crime is a crime committed “because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person.”
However, the language that opens the legislation clearly focuses on hate: “Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs.”
If you’ve been accused of a hate crime or any other crime, contact Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Clancy & Clancy. Visit their website at http://dfwcriminallaw.wpengine.com/ or call (214) 740-9955 to schedule a consultation.