Hate Crimes in NY

by arkady bukh on February 28, 2013

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Arkady Bukh, The Bukh Law Firm, P.C.

Recently there have been a few headlines relating to crimes of beating and stabbing in NY which have been charged as “hate” crimes. Both crimes happened in the Queens area, and at first, as they were so near in date to one another it appeared to be the same report.

On November 18, 2012, a man named Bashir Ahmad, age 57, was stabbed outside a mosque in Queens. This was deemed a hate crime because as he was being stabbed six times, his assailant called him “f—-Muslim, I’ll kill you” according to the story in the NY Daily News. Just days later, another man was assaulted in Queens on November 24th . He was severely beaten by two men, who had asked him if he was Muslim or Hindu prior to the beating. This man is 70 years old and was beaten around the head and face. The perpetrators, when caught, will also probably be charged with a hate crime.

What Constitutes a Hate Crime: In the cases above and in also in a vandalism case of anti-Semitic words on a car in upstate NY, how do these cases rise above the assaults or vandalism that they would normally be and become a hate crime? The State of New York codifies hate crimes in NY Penal Code §485.05, wherein the state defines a hate crime and then lists some 40+ specified offenses that can become hate crimes. In essence, a person commits a hate crime when they commit one of the specified offenses and “(a)intentionally selects the person against whom the offense is committed or intended to be committed in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding” their religion, ethnicity, racial background, age, disability, sexual preference, “whether or not the perception was correct”.

Thus in the cases mentioned above, the fact that the assailants in both cases mentioned the victims’ religion or ethnic background in the course of committing the crime as being the reason for the crime, they are then charged with assault, as a hate crime. A good criminal defense attorney will tell you that having “hate crime” added to charge can change a misdemeanor into a felony and can extend the sentence for the crime by many years beyond the average for the same crime not deemed a hate crime. Also when the specified offence is a Class A-1 felony and a hate crime the minimum sentence jumps up to 20 years in jail.

Defense: Defending against a charge of a hate crime can be a difficult task as the criminal defense team must look at the reason that the prosecution is charging this way and counter it in a logical fashion. This certainly becomes more difficult when something is spray painted that falls into “hate crime” language. In the above mentioned cases, the media reported that the assailants of the stabbing victim called him a “f—– Muslim” and that the 70 year old man was asked if he was Hindu or Muslim before he was severely beaten. Were there any witnesses that heard these racial slurs, doubtful since both attacks occurred very early in the morning. The Prosecution will be under the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the assailants committed the specified offense, in these cases degrees of assault, and that they committed the assaults because the victims were of a certain ethnic background.

Arkady Bukh is an experienced NY Criminal Defense Attorney and the founder of The Bukh Law Firm, P.C.

arkady bukh

arkady bukh

Arkady Bukh is an experienced criminal lawyer in New York City. He started the Bukh Law Firm, P.C. in 2003 and the firm has grown a great deal in the last 9 years. The attorneys at this firm are dedicated to serving their clients as individuals and working as partners with the client in gaining a successful result in any criminal defense matter: state, Federal or local. The firm is located at 14 Wall Street, in the heart of Manhattan.
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