Law enforcement agencies and legislators in Minnesota are “cracking down” on hate crimes in an effort to shield Minnesotans from discrimination and violence. To counter the rise of hate crime across the state, law enforcement and legislators are stiffening penalties in the hopes of deterring any further increases.
What Makes a Crime a “Hate Crime”
Not all crimes are “hate crimes” and law enforcement and the courts are required to establish that additional factors were present when the individual committed the crime. These include:
- Discrimination. Law enforcement and the prosecutor must be able to establish that the offender deliberately chose their victim because of their gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability.
- Racially Motivated Language. Individuals who use racial epithets or slurs during the commission of the crime can be charged with a hate crime. Such examples would be using such terms for the purpose of intimidating or degrading the individual during a violent assault or robbery. Speech alone is not grounds to charge someone with a hate crime To be considered a hate crime, it must be accompanied by some form of physical action such as rape, robbery, or assault.
The Offenders Who Commit Hate Crimes
Anyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, or age can be charged with committing a hate crime. In 2015, the FBI’s crime statistics show that hate crimes are committed by a wide variety of offenders.
- 48.4% of offenders were white.
- 24.3% of hate crimes were committed by Black or African-American offenders.
- 9.1% were mixed race and identified themselves as belonging to two or more ethnic categories.
- 6.1% were Hispanic or Latino.
- 1% of offenders were Asian.
- .9% were American Indian or Alaskan Natives.
- .1% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
Age plays a considerable factor in determining whether the offender will be charged with a hate crime. In 2015, the FBI recorded 3,331 known hate crime offenders. Of these, 84.7% were 18 years or older, while only 15.3% were under the age of 18.
Hate Crimes Against Persons and Property
In 2015, 4,230 instances of hate crimes against persons were recorded. These included the following:
- 42.5% were simple assaults.
- 22.9% of hate crimes involved aggravated assault, i.e. crimes wherein the offender deliberately attempted to cause serious bodily injury to the victim.
- 33.9% of hate crimes involved intimidating the victim.
- .3% of offenses involved rape.
- .2% of offenses involved murder.
In addition to violent crimes, the FBI recorded 1,440 instances of hate crimes against property in 2015. These crimes included:
- 58.1% of crimes involved destruction, damage, or defacing property through vandalism.
- 15.8% of hate crime offenders committed robbery.
- 12.3% committed theft.
- 8% of hate crime offenders committed burglary.
- 1.5% of offenders committed arson.
- 1.1% stole the victim’s vehicle.
The Rates of Hate Crimes in Minnesota
The number of agencies reporting hate crimes in Minnesota has risen sharply since 2006. In 2006, 289 agencies reported hate crime incidents throughout the state. That number increased to more than 300 in 2007 before dropping to 250 in 2008. The number dropped sharply in 2009 and 2010 when less than 100 agencies reported incidents throughout the state.
However, the numbers rose in 2011 and 2012 when 190 agencies filed reports. These numbers rose further in 2013 when 270 agencies filed reports, and in 2014 when 295 filed reports. 2015 was the highest yet with 319 agencies filing reported incidents of hate crimes.
While the number of reports being filed has risen sharply, the number of hate crimes committed has actually dropped. In 2006, there were 137 hate crimes reported in Minnesota. The numbers rose slightly in 2007 and 2008 before dropping steadily in 2009 and 2010. 2011 and 2013 saw spikes in hate crimes when 140 incidents were reported. In 2012, there were only 90 hate crimes committed which was the lowest rate in the past decade, and in 2015, there were only 109 hate crimes recorded.
When compared side by side, the statistics show not that hate crimes are increasing or that Minnesota is becoming a hotbed of hatred; rather, the statistics show that there is considerable law enforcement overlap in investigating and pursuing the same incidents.
Lawmakers Increase Penalties
In Spring 2016, the Minnesota legislature passed measures which allow prosecutors to seek additional penalties for offenses deemed hate crimes. Under the revised statutes, prosecutors may seek sentences of up to 25% longer than normal sentencing guidelines if it is determined that the crime was motivated by bias or discrimination.
It’s a change that is guaranteed to garner considerable attention as prosecutors pursue their case against Kelvin Warren Porter and his criminal defense attorney prepares his defense. Porter is charged with assaulting and biting a Muslim man in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has indicated that his office will pursue additional penalties given the severity of the attack and anti-Muslim motivations Porter is accused of.
For more about hate crimes, contact criminal defense law firm Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office at 507-625-5000.