As a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I have dealt with those accused of ethnic intimidation. In this article, I will explain Pennsylvania’s ethnic intimidation law, add-on crimes, how ethnic intimidation is graded, and what to do if you are charged.
What is Pennsylvania’s Ethnic Intimidation Law?
The state of Pennsylvania uses the term, “ethnic intimidation” rather than “hate crime.” The term hate crime is a creation of the media and activist groups, not lawmakers. The state of Pennsylvania defines ethnic intimidation as:
Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of ethnic intimidation if, with malicious intention toward the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity of another individual or group of individuals, he commits an offense under any other provision of this article or under Chapter 33 (relating to arson, criminal mischief and other property destruction) exclusive of section 3307 (relating to institutional vandalism) or under section 3503 (relating to criminal trespass) or under section 5504 (relating to harassment by communication or address) with respect to such individual or his or her property or with respect to one or more members of such group or to their property.
What is an Add-On Crime in Pennsylvania?
Ethnic intimidation is known as an add-on crime, which means that the crime cannot exist independently. Ethnic intimidation is filed with other crimes if it is believed that a crime was motivated by “malicious intention” based on the victim’s race, color, religion or national origin. Underlying offenses include crimes of violence like aggravated assault, or property crimes like arson, criminal mischief or criminal trespass.
How is Ethnic Intimation Graded in Pennsylvania?
Grading.–An offense under this section shall be classified as a misdemeanor of the third degree if the other offense is classified as a summary offense. Otherwise, an offense under this section shall be classified one degree higher in the classification specified in section 106 (relating to classes of offenses) than the classification of the other offense
Ethnic intimidation is graded one degree higher than the primary offense. Thus, if a primary offense of criminal mischief is a summary offense, the accompanying ethnic intimidation charge would be a third-degree misdemeanor. You can expect a first-degree misdemeanor terroristic threat motivated by racial hatred will be accompanied by an ethnic intimidation charge graded as a third-degree felony.
What Should I Do if I am Charged With Ethnic Intimidation in Pennsylvania?
If you have been charged with ethnic intimidation, it is believed that you were motivated to commit a crime by hatred of an actual or perceived member of a minority group. For example, if you scream ethnic slurs at someone and threaten to kill them, law enforcement will charge you with ethnic intimidation. Because of these threats, the police will have reason to think your threat is linked to hatred of the ethnic group you insulted.
If you are charged with ethnic intimidation you will need to retain a lawyer as soon as you can. Ethnic intimidation is a very serious offense and legal representation is vital. I have the experience to help resolve the charge. Contact the Fishman Firm for a free consultation.