Periodic report of the united states of america to the united nations committee on the elimination of racial discrimination


B. Racial motives as aggravating circumstances under domestic penal legislation



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B. Racial motives as aggravating circumstances under domestic penal legislation.

57. The commission of a crime based on the victim’s race, national origin, or ethnicity is an aggravating factor under many U.S. criminal statutes at both the federal and state levels. In 1994, the U.S. Congress passed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, 28 U.S.C. 994, which required the U.S. Sentencing Commission to increase penalties for crimes committed because of animus toward a person’s “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person.” As described above, the federal criminal code treats certain bias motivated crimes as specific offenses. Most states either have specific hate crimes laws (see, e.g., Washington, New York and Massachusetts) or allow bias motivation in criminal offenses to be taken into account as aggravating circumstances in sentencing (see, e.g., Alabama, Arizona, California, and Florida). Penalty enhancement provisions generally apply to a wide range of violent acts, but in some states are limited to specific crimes, such as assault and battery.




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