If you’re facing a hate crime charge in Nevada, the potential for serious sentencing enhancements likely has you shaking in your boots, and for good reason. Even a relatively minor crime could land you in jail for the long term if it’s determined that your actions were motivated by bias against a protected class.

Fortunately, you don’t just have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. With help from a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney, you can effectively fight against the hate crime charges. Here’s what you need to know about that process.

What are Hate Crime Laws?

First things first, what is a hate crime, exactly? A hate crime is an attempted or completed criminal act motivated by the suspect’s bias against a protected class.

Also known as bias-motivated crimes, hate crime laws appear at both the federal and state levels. In some cases, they vary on which protected classes they cover. But Nevada follows the same formula as the federal laws.

So, whether the hate crime charges come from Nevada or federal courts, they cover the victims’:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity

No matter the area of bias, the hate crime designation is not its own charge. Instead, it serves as an aggravating factor, potentially doubling the sentence of the linked charges, if not worse. In fact, the enhancements could even result in a life sentence or the death penalty if you’re charged with a serious crime, like murder, kidnapping, or sexual assault.

How Courts Must Prove Bias for Hate Crime Charges

In order to get a conviction for your hate crime charge, the court must prove that you committed the crime due to your bias against the victim. This can prove quite tricky, especially if you haven’t shown obvious bias against the indicated class in the past.

The courts will dig deep though, looking for physical evidence, like text messages, along with witness testimonies that speak to your biases. Then, the prosecutor will attempt to paint a picture showing that your bias motivated you to commit the crime in question.

If they can manage to do that, then you may end up convicted of the hate crime and the underlying charges. As the case then moves to the sentencing phase, you’re likely to end up with a much harsher sentence than you would have otherwise.

What to Do If You’re Charged with a Hate Crime in Nevada

Although the wheels of justice move slowly, it’s never a good idea to wait to act if you’re charged with a hate crime. You need to get help from a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Nevada right away.

With that move, you’ll get the help you need to build a strong legal defense and fight against all the charges you’re facing. Ideally, it’s best to start from the ground up and try to get the underlying charges dropped entirely. If your lawyer can do that, then the hate crime enhancements often disappear as well.

Building an effective criminal defense case takes time, especially if you need help gathering evidence disproving the prosecutor’s claims. So, don’t hesitate to call our team at ATAC Law as soon as you find out about your charges. We will hit the ground running upon receiving your call, even putting our in-house team of private investigators on the case if needed.

Our team is always available at (702) 463-4900 when you need legal help in Nevada. With a single call, you can set up a free consultation at a convenient date and time for you. Then, we’ll come by to discuss your case in full, so you can make a well-informed decision about how to move forward.