Hate crimes have been on the rise in Colorado, with a recent report from the FBI showing a 16% increase in hate crimes in the state in 2020. This rise in hate crimes has significant implications for criminal defense in Colorado. This blog post will explore the rise of hate crimes in Colorado and what it means for criminal defense.
What is a Hate Crime?
A hate crime is a criminal act committed against an individual or group based on their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other characteristic. Hate crimes are intended to harm the victim and intimidate and terrorize the entire community to which the victim belongs.
The Rise of Hate Crimes in Colorado
Hate crimes have risen in Colorado recently, significantly increasing in 2020. According to the FBI report, hate crimes in Colorado rose from 106 incidents in 2019 to 123 in 2020, representing a 16% increase. Most of these crimes were motivated by race and ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.
What Does This Mean for Criminal Defense?
The rise of hate crimes in Colorado has significant implications for criminal defense. Hate crimes are considered more heinous than other crimes because they target individuals or groups based on their identity. As a result, the penalties for hate crimes can be more severe than for other crimes, including longer prison sentences and steeper fines.
Additionally, because hate crimes are intended to intimidate an entire community, they can have a broader impact than other crimes. This means that law enforcement may be more aggressive in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes, making it more challenging for criminal defense attorneys to defend their clients.
Defense Strategies for Hate Crimes
Defending against hate crimes can be challenging, but there are several defense strategies that criminal defense attorneys can use. Here are a few examples:
- Challenging the Evidence: In any criminal case, the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In hate crime cases, this can be challenging, especially if there is no direct evidence linking the defendant to the crime. Criminal defense attorneys may be able to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution and show that their client is not guilty of the crime.
- Showing Lack of Intent: Hate crimes require the prosecution to prove that the defendant intended to target an individual or group based on their identity. Criminal defense attorneys may be able to argue that their client did not have the necessary intent to commit a hate crime.
- Mitigating Circumstances: In some cases, criminal defense attorneys may be able to argue that their client was acting under duress, was coerced, or was suffering from a mental illness that affected their judgment at the time of the crime. These mitigating circumstances may help reduce the penalties’ severity or result in a plea bargain.
The rise of hate crimes in Colorado is a concerning trend with significant implications for criminal defense. Hate crimes can result in more severe penalties than other crimes, and law enforcement may be more aggressive in investigating and prosecuting these crimes. However, criminal defense attorneys can use various defense strategies to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution and show that their client is not guilty of the crime. Ultimately, the rise of hate crimes in Colorado highlights the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help navigate the complex legal landscape and defend against these serious charges.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.