Why it’s so hard to prosecute a hate crime
Vox - 04/10/2017
If a state does have a hate crime law or federal law enforcement gets involved in a case, the important thing here is that someone must commit an actual crime to be charged with a hate crime. That crime can then be elevated to a hate crime if there’s enough evidence to suggest that the motive for the act was hate. But if no crime was committed in the course of someone doing something hateful, it’s a hateful act, but not a hate crime.
“It could be an act of trespassing or vandalism. It could be a violent crime, like rape or murder,” Jack Levin, an expert on hate crimes at Northeastern University, told me. “But when the motive involves targeting someone because of a difference, then it becomes a hate crime.”