Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

A BOSTON CRIMINAL LAWYER CHECKS IN WITH AN UPDATE OF CRIMINAL LAW BLOGS, HATE SPEECH AND HATE CRIME

Hello again.

First things first.

We recently had a presidential election. The country was pretty divided in that one. As a result, some folks were going to be left angry no matter who won.

Donald Trump won. Some people are very angry.

That’s fine. Dissent and free speech are what this country is all about.

To an extent.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Speech, Hate, Assault and Battery

We have discussed the issues of “hate crimes” before. While a crime like assault and battery is assault and battery, regardless of the purported reason, such actions under certain circumstances are considered more heinous and so are given special attention. This would include cases of domestic violence and “hate crimes”.

A “hate crime” can involve speech or actual physical violence. Usually, the hate motivation has to do with race, sexual identity, or some other protected class. In other words, if you suddenly start throwing rocks at someone calling them racial, homophobic or similar names, you are committing a hate crime, specifically assault and battery.

Since the election, however, there have been many reported instances of alleged crimes being perpetrated against people because of the election results. In other words, people spray-painting Jewish grave sites with swastikas indicating that the election of Mr. Trump somehow means that Jews no longer have a place in the country. On the other hand, there are allegations of black people attacking whites to protest the election results because, they claim, anyone who voted for Mr. Trump must be a racist.

Incidentally, while attacking someone because you think he is a racist may not be a “hate crime”, it is still illegal.  In the United States, one has the right to be a racist or to hold racist views.

So, are all these folks allegedly committing ” hate crime”s?

As usual, that depends.

Clearly, someone attacking someone because of racial or religious affiliations is a hate crime. Race, religion and sexual identity are areas that are protected under the law.

Generally, however, political affiliation is not a protected issue. However, things could get so heated that one wonders if that might change. It is worth noting, though, that the attacks and verbiage we have been hearing about might trigger another criminal issue.

This would refer to issues like terrorism, threatening a public official and the like. Threatening anyone’s life is a crime in itself. Threatening the life of a president, or president elect, raises it to a whole new level.

National security type of level.

I think folks on both sides had best settle down a bit. The election is done and, although some of the political issues are likely to take some time to iron out, violent behavior is only going to bring you more problems.

Actually, bring all of us more problems.

As you may have noticed, someone else is now helping out with the regular blogging on this site. I’m still here, but we are working on some changes which will likely be beneficial to all concerned, including the readers. So, while you will not be seeing the Attorney Sam’s Take postings as often, I am still here and you will be hearing more from me soon.

In the meantime, if you have a question or would like me to address something, please feel free to email me at attygoldberg@aol.com.

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