The two words “hate crime” are often heard in the current climate - in the press, in the judicial system, and in our societies generally. Anyone may be a victim of a hate crime. In light of Pride Week, this article briefly looks at what hate crime is, and how it is dealt with in the criminal justice system.
As per the guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”), hate crime can be described as a range of criminal behaviour which is motivated by hostility towards a person or persons because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. Such criminal behaviour may include, amongst other behaviours, assault, threatening or abusive behaviour, harassment, bullying and causing damage to a person’s property.
The acts of parliament that govern hate crime in England and Wales are the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice Act 2003. This legislation allows for many criminal offences to be uplifted to hate crime, if it can be established that the motivation behind the behaviour is hostility towards a person because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. The impact of this is that the behaviour may be deemed more serious, and increased sentences may be imposed on conviction, including sentences of immediate imprisonment.
Hate crime is prosecuted by the CPS. When a report of a hate crime is made to the police, the police will investigate the matter. The police will refer a case to the CPS to decide whether a suspect should be charged with a hate crime. If a suspect is charged, then they will be given a date to appear before the Magistrates Court and the matter will run its course through the judicial system. Some hate crimes can be dealt with in the Crown Court, depending on their levels of seriousness.
With tensions running high in England and Wales, perhaps largely due to Brexit, it is perhaps not unusual to think that reports of hate crime may be prevalent at this sensitive time. We often encounter defendants charged with a hate crime in the Magistrates Court, with more and more people seemingly reporting hate crimes to the police.
If you have been charged with a hate crime, and are due to attend Court, or if you are a suspect in a police investigation for a hate crime, then get in touch with Smith Partnership. Legal advice at the police station is entirely free of charge, and if you have been charged with a hate crime, you may be eligible for legal aid, subject to assessment on a case by case basis.
If you require assistance from Smith Partnership, please contact our Crime Department based at our Derby, Burton, Stoke or Leicester offices.
Our out of hours contact details are as below;
Burton Upon Trent – 07767 706555
Derby – 01332 225 300
Leicester – 07703 262740