Matt Albasi // Stacker
- Number of states with provisions: 36 (plus D.C.) with distinct crime, 6 with general sentencing, 4 with both
Enhanced penalties are enacted in two primary ways: by treating hate crimes as separate, distinct crimes (on top of the regular criminal charges filed in a case), and through general sentencing statutes that identify the underlying, hate-related characteristics of a crime. When treated as a distinct crime, the crime is defined, protected classes are specifically listed, and penalties are established. In cases of general sentencing, statutes require that selecting a target from protected classes should be considered an aggravating factor, which in turn leads to harsher punishment during sentencing.
For example, a person residing in a state that treats hate crimes as distinct could face two charges for one assault—one for the assault itself, and one for a hate crime; however, under general sentencing statutes, a person would be charged for assault only but receive a harsher punishment if eventually convicted. Currently, there are 36 states that treat hate crimes as distinct crimes, six states with general sentencing statutes, and four states with both.