It is fairly easy to be accused of hate crime in contemporary society. Whereas hate crime is deplorable, every accused person has the right to legal defense, and every suspect is innocent until proven guilty. Below are some of the defenses your lawyer can use if you face such a criminal charge.
The best defense to hate crime is to prove that you did not commit any crime in the first place. Hate crime is a subset of crime, so if you didn't commit any crime, then you shouldn't be prosecuted for hate crime either. In this case, you will use any of the general criminal defenses relevant to your case. You can use self-defense, mistaken identify, or accident. You can even provide an alibi placing you at a different location at the time of the alleged crime.
Consider an example where an ethnic minority accuses you of running them off the road, in a case of road rage, due to their race. You can prove that you didn't commit any crime by proving that you lost control of your car and the incident was not road rage, but rather a conventional auto accident.
Lack of Intent
Hate crime is a specific intent crime; you can only be guilty of a hate crime if you specifically targeted the person due to bias or prejudice. If you are successful in the defense, you may still be charged with the crime, but it will not be aggravated by racial bias or prejudice.
Say there is a group of shops in a commercial district, and you have been accused of shoplifting from the only shop in the area owned by an immigrant of a different race. In this case, you need to prove why you targeted the shop, and that race wasn't a factor in the decision at all. For example, you can prove that you didn't even know the identity of the shop's owner, and you targeted it due to its lax security measures as compared to other establishments in the area. Thus, you might face shoplifting charges, but not hate crime charges.
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution includes a clause that guarantees free speech to everyone subject to the country's laws. Note that this defense only applies if your action consisted exclusively of speech, and you didn't commit any other crime. Also, you must not have threatened violent acts against the complainant.
For example, you may raise the free speech defense if you have been charged with a hate crime after calling out a local politician for their deplorable actions during an election. However, you won't be able to enjoy this defense if you also called on others to attack the politician and burn down their offices.
For more more information about legal services, contact a local resource.