Is this assault a hate crime?

by Antonette
(Anaheim, CA)

MY 24 year old son was verbally attacked at my parents' home by a former friend and his parents. They came in a car yelling "f---ing ni--er!" The dad was shoving my son on my parents' front porch and it became a brawl, where my son was in a choke hold by the dad while the kid hit him. The mom also kicked my son while he was on the ground, again calling him a "f---ing ni--er" and laughing.

My son's coworker was arrested for separating them, but he never hit anyone. The former friend was also arrested. The detectives told my parents yesterday that the dad is complaining of injuries (my son had welts on the back of his head) and he has medical problems, so they didn't charge him with anything.

The dad is claiming he has serious medical problems (but was able to hold my son down so his kid could hit him?) All witnesses state they came to attack and were saying "f---ing ni--er" as they came out of car. The mom has also not been charged, and since my son was on the ground when he got kicked by her they are not even stating it was "assault with a deadly weapon."

My son is half Mexican and black. The attackers were of Latino decent. My son has been racially profiled his whole life by this police department: stopped in his car, had a gun pulled on him when walking to the bus with a friend, and harassed in front of my parents' house.

Does it seem the police department is racial profiling my son? Do you see this as a hate crime? Can my son press charges, being that the cops have refused? What can be done? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is this assault a hate crime?":

Antonette (Anaheim, CA):

While the facts you present indicate the exchanges among the participants were heated, and there may very well have been an assault committed against your son, the yelling of a racial slur does not necessarily make it a hate crime, UNLESS that was the primary reason for the assault. A Hate Crime is a crime motivated by racial, sexual, or other prejudice.

You mentioned that it was your son's "former friend" and his family who perpetrated the assault. This leads one to believe there is a backstory and other events which may have lead to the assault. This would have to be investigated.

Let's look at the definitions of Racial Profiling and Hate Crimes...

Racial Profiling

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the term "Racial Profiling" refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement when targeting certain individuals for suspicion of crimes they may have committed based on the individual's race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.

Criminal profiling, generally, as practiced by police, is the reliance on a group of characteristics they believe to be associated with crime.

Hate Crimes

According to the FBI, "Hate Crime" is a crime like murder, arson, assault, menacing, or vandalism. However, in a hate crime there exists an added element of bias or prejudice.

The FBI has defined a hate crime as a "criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."

Hate itself is not a crime, nor are statements made by individuals expressing hate for other individuals or groups.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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