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Hate crime charges may lead to more severe penalties

In Texas and around the country, people who are charged with offenses such as arson or murder may have hate crimes charges added if law enforcement authorities believe that they were motivated by bias. Hate crimes are prosecuted under federal law and may result in enhanced penalties.

According to the FBI, these offenses occur when people commit crimes against others because of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or color. If there is evidence that the perpetrators were motivated by bias, they may be prosecuted for both the underlying offenses as well as hate crimes charges.

The FBI reports that its role in investigating hate crimes increased after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Today, the agency investigates hate crimes across the country. Hate crimes may also be prosecuted under state laws instead of federal law. When the federal government leaves the prosecution of a hate crime to the state, the FBI may assist local law enforcement authorities with their investigations into the offenses. Once the investigations are complete, the charging recommendations will be forwarded by the FBI agents to the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division as well as federal prosecutors.

Some people are charged with hate crimes when the offenses were not motivated by bias. People who are facing hate crimes charges in state or federal court might benefit by seeking help from experienced criminal defense lawyers. Those who are experienced in representing people against allegations of state and federal crimes may be able to explain how the court process works. They may work to try to secure the best possible resolution to the charges against their clients. They might use investigators and experts to build strong defense cases against the charges.

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