Colleges are a melting pot of individuals who come from a variety of backgrounds, so it’s imperative that everyone on the campus respects everyone else. When an accusation of harassment or bullying occurs and the victim belongs to a specific class of people, these actions are sometimes classified as hate crimes. When this occurs, the consequences of a criminal conviction can be considerable.
It’s possible that a hate crime can be a violent offense. Things like murder, assault and similar crimes that occur because of the victim’s religion, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, disability or national origin are classified as hate crimes. Specific laws cover these crimes, and they’re stricter than similar crimes that don’t have the hate element to them.
People often assume that they can say whatever they want to because of the First Amendment — but that isn’t always true. It’s always best to err on the side of caution. In no case should you ever allow a confrontation with someone else to turn physical, nor should you make any threats of physical violence, because that can bring on these very serious charges.
Once you’re charged with a hate crime, you’re going to have to get started on your defense strategy immediately. Your attorney will have to investigate the matter and determine what options you have. Your role in the incident may play a part in what you’re able to do. Be sure to think about how the charges can impact your schooling, including the way it might alter your financial aid or standing with the school.