No Hate Crime Laws In Georgia?

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hate crime

As experienced criminal defense lawyers in Georgia, we not only feel it’s our duty to keep you updated on specific offenses under Georgia law but, also, to keep you informed of other news related to the area of criminal law in general—such as why the state of Georgia has yet to pass hate-crime legislation?

It’s also important information to know for anyone who has beencharged with a crime and is coerced into believing that he or she will becharged with a hate crime unless they confess to the alleged underlying crime.There are no enhanced penalties for hate crimes in the state of Georgia.However, such tactics are sometimes employed by law enforcement officials tothreaten a confession out of the accused. And, believe it or not, it’sconstitutional for law enforcement to lie during interrogations. That’s whyBixon Law is dedicated to keeping you updated Georgia’s criminal laws.

The Rise of Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you stand, no one can deny that there has been an increase in hate crimes across the United States during the last few years. The nation is politically divided and the hate rhetoric today resembles the likes of it during the Civil Rights Movement. The latest hate-crime to make national news was the attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue in October. Eleven people where killed by a gunman who opened fire on the victims because of their Jewish faith.

Pennsylvania is one of the forty-five states, including the District of Columbia, that have laws criminalizing violence based on bias, intimidation and hatred towards an entire community or group of people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity. Georgia, however, isn’t.

The Push for Hate Crime Legislation in Georgia

In 2000, the state of Georgia did pass a hate crime law that called for harsher penalties for people convicted of crimes motivated by hate. Specifically, the 2000 hate crime legislation would have enhanced a defendant’s prison sentence by five years if the victim was chosen because of bias or prejudice. However, it did not specify which groups of people would qualify for protection under the law. In 2004, the hate crime law that was passed was challenged for the first time it was used and the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously struck it down, concluding that the law was “constitutionally vague.”

With the increase of hate crimes today, some Georgia state lawmakers believe it’s time for the state to join in with the other states across the country who have passed hate crime legislation. However, Georgia’s still not ready to do so. In January of this year, Rep. Meagan Hanson, R – Brookhaven, sponsored a hate crime bill with the support of the Anti-Defamation League and the Coalition for a Hate-Free Georgia; however, the proposed legislation failed to pass the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

According to an article published by the Atlanta Jewish Times, Georgia Hate-Crimes Bill Misses Cutoff, the proposed legislation “would have increased the penalties for crimes motivated by bias based on the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental disability or physical disability.”

If you can recall, back in 2016, a jury convicted an Atlanta man accused of pouring boiling water over two gay men while they were sleeping. That man, Martin Blackwell, was found guilty on eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Blackwell wasn’t charged with a hate crime because Georgia does not have hate crime statues.

Further, the bill “would have mandated reporting on hate crimes and training for law enforcement on how to investigate such crimes and deal with their victims.” The bill is dead for now, but it appears that advocates for hate crime legislation will keep pushing until Georgia does pass legislation on hate crimes. And, when it does, we will be sure to let you know!

If You Have Been Charged with Any Crime, Contact Bixon Law Today

Michael Bixon represents clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. He is committed to helping his clients through difficult situations and working to get them the best possible outcome. If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, we invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.