Four Questions and Answers about Hate Crimes in Utah

With tensions rising in seemingly every area of life, it’s not a surprise that criminal charges for hate crimes have also increased. According to statistics from the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, there were 46 hate crime incidents in Utah in 2020. In 2019 there were only 18. One of the major factors in determining whether a crime is charged as a hate crime is intent. Fighting against accusations based on your intent can be difficult, but the expert criminal defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat can help. Below are three questions you may have about hate crimes and the associated charges in Utah.  

1. What types of hate crimes are there?

The FBI’s UCR breaks down hate crimes into three categories:

  • Crimes against persons
  • Crimes against property
  • Crimes against society

Additionally, the FBI breaks down the types of crimes into six bias categories:

  • Race/ethnicity/ancestry
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Gender
  • Gender identity

2. What is considered a hate crime in Utah?

A hate crime in Utah* must check both of the boxes below:

  1. Committing a “primary offense”
  2. With the intent to “intimidate or terrorize” another person or with reason to believe that the action would intimidate or terrorize

Primary Offenses

A primary offense is considered a misdemeanor offense for the following crimes:

  • assault
  • property destruction
  • criminal trespass
  • theft
  • obstructing government operations
  • interfering with activities of colleges and universities
  • offenses against public order and decency
  • telephone abuse
  • cruelty to animals
  • weapons offenses
  • disorderly conduct at an official meeting

Intimidate or Terrorize

To intimidate or terrorize is defined as the following:

  1. An act which causes a person to fear for their physical safety or damages the property of that person or another. The act must be accompanied with the intent to cause or has the effect of causing a person to reasonably fear to freely exercise or enjoy any right secured by the Constitution or laws of the state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

*The information in this section is a summary of the Utah code. For the full details, see the website.

3. What are the penalties for committing a hate crime in Utah?

Committing a hate crime increases the penalty/severity of the primary offense charges by one degree. For example

  • A class C misdemeanor primary offense is a class B misdemeanor
  • A class B misdemeanor primary offense is a class A misdemeanor

4. How do I find a defense lawyer for hate crimes in Utah?

If you have committed a crime that was deemed a hate crime, it is crucial that you find an experienced defense lawyer to help with your case. Since proving intent to terrorize is crucial to the prosecution of these crimes, prosecutors may push for charges that don’t accurately represent your intent. The defense lawyers at Brown, Bradshaw and Moffat have decades of experience fighting back against criminal hate crime charges and are ready to work on your defense.

Contact us at (801) 532-5297 if you have questions about your hate crime charges or if you want to get started on your defense.

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