Hate Crimes

Crimes of the Ignorant

Hate crimes can take many forms, the most extreme form being an actual physical assault or homicide. The definition also includes attempted assault or threat of assault, the placement of symbols or graffiti on a person’s property that malign a person’s identity (for example, a swastika painted on the home of a Jewish person). Other examples include threatening phone calls, letters, and fire-bombings.

Federal Hate Crime Law

Federal hate crime laws protect against crimes motivated by hatred against a protected class. Although state laws vary, current statutes permit federal prosecution of hate crimes committed on the basis of a person’s protected characteristics of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

Idaho Hate Crime Law

While the Idaho Code does not specifically use the term “hate crime,” it defines “malicious harassment” as a crime that occurs when a person, maliciously and with specific intent to intimidate or harass another person, uses or threatens to use violence against a person, or to damage their property, because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin. In Idaho, malicious harassment is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. A victim of malicious harassment can also sue for damages in a civil court.

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