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Elder Law

Queens Prosecutors Don’t Require ‘Hate’ Showing in New Use of Hate Crimes Law

Posted Jun 22, 2010 10:42 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Some New York prosecutors are using the state's hate-crimes law to prosecute people who prey on the elderly.

Prosecutors in Queens have obtained tougher sentences under this approach, and it’s attracting interest among prosecutors statewide, the New York Times reports. Theft of less than $1 million usually does not require prison time, but if the theft is a hate crime, the defendant could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, the story says.

The Queens prosecutors contend the hate-crimes statute does not require proof of hatred. Instead, they say, it merely requires the defendant to hold some belief about the targeted group, such as a belief that members are easy to deceive and might have substantial assets.

At least five defendants have pleaded guilty to or have been convicted under this hate-crime theory, and charges against two others are pending.

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