Hate crime offenses are relatively new and have been enacted in many states at the urging of legislators. In the state of Missouri, “hate offenses” are governed by Section 577.035 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. There are certain criminal offenses, which the prosecutor believes to be knowingly motivated because of race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, that may be elevated to a more serious classification than it’s normal classification. As a result, this would subject the defendant to more serious punishment.
For instance, under Section 577.035 RSMo, property damage in the first degree and unlawful use of a weapon charges are typically Class E felonies. However, if a defendant were to commit either of those offenses and it was motivated by race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, the offenses would be elevated to a Class D felony.
Also, under Section 577.035 RSMo, there are several offenses, such as assault in the third degree, harassment, tampering in the second degree, property damage in the second degree, trespass in the second degree, and rioting, which are usually charged as Class E felonies or as misdemeanors offenses, but are elevated to a Class D felony if they are deemed to be hate offenses.
A prosecutor will look at both direct evidence and circumstantial evidence to make a determination if the underlying criminal charge can be elevated due to the motivating factors such as race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.
If you have been accused of hate crime offense in the state of Missouri, it is imperative to have an experienced and tough criminal defense lawyer in your corner. Our attorneys are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.