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What constitutes hate crimes in New Jersey?


What Constitutes Hate Crimes in New Jersey?

Hate crimes, also known as bias crimes or bias intimidation, are unfortunately a real problem in New Jersey. But what exactly counts as a hate crime here? And what are the consequences if you commit one? This article will break it all down for you.

Defining Hate Crimes in New Jersey

According to New Jersey law (specifically N.J.S.A. Section 2C:16-1), a hate crime occurs when someone commits a criminal offense against another person based on their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • National origin
  • Ethnicity

So basically, if you commit a crime targetting someone because of who they are, that’s a hate crime. It doesn’t matter what the actual criminal offense is – it can be anything from assault to vandalism to harassment. If you do it out of hate or bias, it becomes a hate crime.

How Common Are Hate Crimes in New Jersey?

Unfortunately, hate crimes still happen way too often in New Jersey. According to the Department of Justice[1], here are the number of reported hate crime incidents in recent years:

  • 2019: 581 incidents
  • 2020: 485 incidents
  • 2021: 226 incidents

So the number has been going down, which is good. But over 200 hate crimes a year is still too many. The most common types of bias motivations are race/ethnicity/ancestry and religion.

Examples of Hate Crimes in New Jersey

To understand hate crimes better, let’s look at some real life examples that have happened in New Jersey:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • A man violently assaulted multiple members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood[2]. He was charged with federal hate crimes.
  • A man conspired with white supremacists to vandalize synagogues across the country, including some in New Jersey[3]. He was charged with federal hate crimes.
  • A former police chief used excessive force and committed a hate crime against a Black man. He was charged but found not guilty at his first trial. He will be retried[4].

As you can see, hate crimes can involve physical violence, threats, vandalism, or other criminal acts. What makes them hate crimes is the bias motivation behind them.

How Are Hate Crimes Punished in New Jersey?

Under N.J.S.A. Section 2C:16-1, the penalties for hate crimes depend on the severity of the underlying offense. Committing a bias intimidation crime increases the grading of the charge as well as the potential penalties.

For example, a simple assault is normally a disorderly persons offense. But if it was a hate crime, it would become a 4th degree felony. That means up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000 instead of just up to 6 months in jail.

So in other words, hate crimes are punished more harshly than similar non-hate crimes. A good New Jersey defense lawyer can argue to reduce the charges and penalties if you are accused of a hate crime.

How to Report a Hate Crime

If you are the victim of or witness to a suspected hate crime in New Jersey, you should report it right away. Here’s how:

  • Call 911 if it’s an emergency
  • Call the police non-emergency number if it’s not currently happening
  • Submit a report through the NJ Bias Crimes Reporting System[5]
  • Contact your county prosecutor’s office
  • Report it to the Department of Justice Community Relations Service[6]

Reporting hate crimes as soon as possible allows law enforcement to respond quickly and potentially catch the perpetrators. It also helps authorities track hate crime statistics and trends in New Jersey.

What To Do If You’re Accused of a Hate Crime

If you have been accused of or charged with committing a hate crime in New Jersey, it’s essential that you take it very seriously and get experienced legal help right away. A conviction can result in harsh penalties like fines, probation, and jail time – plus it will give you a permanent criminal record.

A knowledgeable New Jersey hate crime defense lawyer will thoroughly investigate the charges, argue weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, seek to get charges reduced or dismissed, and defend your rights at every step. With an aggressive defense, many people accused of hate crimes avoid convictions.

Don’t take chances with your future. Get the legal representation you need and deserve if facing hate crime allegations in NJ.

The Bottom Line

Hate crimes are serious criminal offenses in New Jersey. They occur when any crime is committed based on bias against someone’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected characteristic. Hate crimes carry harsher punishments than similar non-bias crimes. If accused of a hate crime, immediately contact an experienced New Jersey defense attorney to protect your rights.

Hopefully this overview gave you a better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime in New Jersey. Stay safe out there and treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve!

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