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In the recent politically-charged climate of the last few months, many states, including Oregon have seen an uptick in hate crimes, although the overall incidences remain relatively low. It is important to know what a hate crime is and just as importantly, what it is not.

First of all, it is important to note the differences between hate speech and a hate crime. While many may not agree with what you say, hate speech is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Under that clause, both federal and state governments are forbidden from restricting speech and prohibited from prosecuting people advocating for violence against racial ethnic or gender minorities.

To put it simply, you cannot be prosecuted for a hate crime just because you speak something others do not agree with or take issue with.

A hate crime, on the other hand, is more than words. When one person intentionally subjects another to offensive physical contact, threatens or inflicts physical injury or threatens or causes damage to another person’s property because of a person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, the action may be considered a hate crime.

If you are facing hate crime charges, it is important to not only know your rights, but secure the strongest defense you can. Although a hate crime may occur within a specific area of the state, some hate crimes may be not only be investigated on the state level, but may be elevated and prosecuted on the federal level. It is important that if you are facing a hate crime charge, the charges aren’t amped up because of public opinion and are solely based on the facts of your case.

Anyone facing a hate crime charge or any criminal charge is still entitled to due process. It is imperative to have an experienced Portland criminal defense attorney standing with you and fighting for your rights. Call our offices today for your free, initial consultation.

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