Bias & Intimidation
New Jersey has adopted stringent laws for those who engage in hate crimes like bias intimidation. Members of the Union County Prosecutors Office have taken a hard-line when it comes to those who target individuals for crimes because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., so you need to take things very seriously if you have been charged with bias intimidation under N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1. If you are convicted of this offense, you will not only face the penalties for the underlying criminal charge you have threatened or actually committed, but also the enhanced jail time and fines that are triggered for a bias intimidation violation. This is not violation which you can entrust to an inexperienced or unmotivated criminal defense lawyer.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the qualifications to effectively defend you in Elizabeth at the county court. This is where you bias intimidation charge will be heard whether it allegedly took place in Scotch Plains, Rahway, Linden, Roselle or another local municipality. The reason why this is the case is because this offense is a felony the jurisdiction over which rests with the Superior Court in Eizabeth. Our lawyers have been defending complex criminal charges in this court for decades and many of the eight members of our defense team are former prosecutors. To speak to a lawyer on our staff anytime 24/7 in a free initial consultation, call our Union NJ Criminal Firm at 908-272-1700.
How Does Someone Commit The Offense Of Bias Intimidation?
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1, it is illegal to attempt, threaten, conspire or actually commit certain criminal offenses with the purpose or knowledge that this conduct will intimidate an individual or group because of their “race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity.” The criminal offenses that are capable of triggering a bias intimidation include homicide, aggravated assault, simply assault, property damage charges like criminal mischief, harassment, and most weapon violations.
Can Someone Be Convicted Of Bias Intimidation If They Did Not Intend To Target Someone Because Of Their Face, Gender, Etc.?
Yes. N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1 extends criminal liability to those that cause a victim to be intimidated, if the victim reasonably believed that: (1) the offense was committed with a purpose to intimidate based on the individual’s race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ethnicity; or (b) he/she was targeted based his/her membership in one of these protected classes.
What Grade Of Crime Is Bias Intimidation?
If the underlying violation that is committed, attempted or threatened is a disorderly persons offense, then bias intimidation is a fourth degree crime. When the underlying offense is a fourth, third or second degree crime, the 2C:16-1 is graded one degree higher. For example, if someone threatened or committed a third degree aggravated assault because someone was African-American, Jewish, Gay, Etc., they could also be charged with bias intimidation in the second degree. If the underlying offense is a first degree crime, bias intimidation in the first-degree applies but the defendant is subject to a different sentencing provision than the standard first degree sentencing provisions.
Am I Subject To The Penalties For Bias Intimidation And The Underlying Offense If I Am Found Guilty Under N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1?
Yes. There is no merger of the offenses if you are found guilty. What this means is that the Judge must impose separate sentences, including prison terms and fines, for bias intimidation and any underlying offense.
What Penalties Apply If I Am Convicted Of Bias Intimidation?
First degree bias carries a state prison term of 10-20 years except where the predicate crime is also first degree, in which case the jail term is increased to 15-30 years, with a presumptive term of imprisonment of 20 years. The maximum fine for first degree bias intimidation is $200,000. Second degree, third degree and fourth degree bias intimidation result in state prison terms of 5-10 years, 3-5 years and up to 18 months, respectively. The maximum fines are $150,000, $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. In addition to any term of imprisonment or fine imposed, a defendant who is convicted of violating this statute may be required to attend a class or program on sensitivity, complete a counseling program to reduce the tendency towards violence or make payments to a community-based program providing services to victims of bias intimidation.
Union County NJ Bias Intimidation Defense Attorneys
We are one of the largest criminal defense teams in the state and certainly in Union County. Most of our attorneys are also former prosecutors. We routinely defend charges at the Union County Superior Court in Elizabeth NJ, and know this court all too well as we have been appearing here for decades. This is the venue where your bis intimidation case will be heard including charges arising in Clark, Hillside, Union, Springfield, Plainfield. Our staff is available for free consultation at 908-272-1700 and we encourage you to give us a call.