Bigots and racists can now be convicted felons in Connecticut. Last month, Connecticut enacted a new law that changed the charge of intimidation based on bigotry and bias from a misdemeanor to a felony. Lawmakers also imposed new minimum fines for some hate crimes, such as burning a cross.
So if you’ve been arrested in Connecticut for Intimidation based on bigotry or bias under any CGS 53a-181 subsection, understand that the State of Connecticut can look for years of jail time if the accusations involve threats of violence against someone based on their race, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
What is a Hate Crime in Connecticut?
As any of the best Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys understand, Connecticut Intimidation laws based on bigotry or bias under CGS 53a-181 are also known as “hate crimes.” Connecticut hate speech crimes are considered acts that are committed maliciously and with the intent to intimidate or harass a person because of that person’s perceived or actual race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.
Hate Crime Vandalism Charges
In addition to hate speech and intimidation crimes, the new Connecticut laws under CGS 46a-58 list three different categories of crimes involving other people’s property:
- Any person who intentionally desecrates any public property, monument or structure, or any religious object, symbol or house of religious worship, or any cemetery, or any private structure not owned by such person guilty of a hate crime;
- Any person who places a burning cross or a simulation of a burning cross on any public property, or on any private property without the written consent of the owner, and with the intent to intimidate or harass any other person or group of persons is guilty of a hate crime; and
- Any person who places a noose or a simulation of a noose on any public property, or on any private property without the consent of the property owner, and with the intent to intimidate or harass any other person or group of persons is guilty of a hate crime.
Fighting Connecticut Hate and Bias Crimes
If you are arrested in Connecticut for Intimidation based of bigotry or bias, then you should immediately contact a top Connecticut hate crime lawyer today. Sometimes people use hate speech when they are drunk, intoxicated, or high. Sometimes they are accused of hate speech in texts, emails or social media that they never said. That’s why it’s critical to hire a Connecticut hate crime attorney who will be able to file a motion to request that the judge order preservation of any and all evidence of the hate crimes charged against you.
Is the First Amendment a Defense to a Connecticut Hate Crime?
Possibly. While the First Amendment guarantees your right to free speech, it does not protect speech that calls for or incites any type of violence. In order for the State to prove its case against you, they must prove that you committed some type of act, such as assault, that was bias-motivated on the basis of the victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. If you are charged with a hate crime simply for offensive thoughts or language that did not call for any violence at all, then you can talk with your top Connecticut criminal lawyer about using the First Amendment as a defense.
Penalties for Connecticut Hate Crimes
If you are arrested for a hate crime under CGS 53a-181 or CGS 46a-58, then you could be facing a Class A misdemeanor, Class D felony, or Class C felony depending on the nature of the crime and the extent of the property damage, jail time of up to 10 years, and fines in excess of over $1,000.
Call a Connecticut Hate Crime Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
The Connecticut First Amendment criminal lawyers at Mark Sherman Law have been fighting Hate Crime arrests in Connecticut for years. We don’t judge our client’s opinions—we are here to help them protect their First Amendment rights. Give us a call today—we are available to take your call 24/7 at (203) 358-4700.