Four Texans have been indicted by a grand jury and arrested as a result of alleged hate crimes the group planned and perpetrated. The young men, ranging in age from 18 to 21, created a profile on the Grindr app (the world's most popular same-sex dating app), "catfished" or lured other men into agreeing to meet at their homes, then attacked the victims when the group arrived.
The four men, Anthony Shelton, Nigel Garrett, Chancler Encalade, and Cameron Ajiduah, are alleged to have, between January and February of this year, completed four such hate crimes. The men would barge into a victim's home, threaten victims with a gun, restrain victims with tape, make anti-gay statements, and steal the victim's belongings. In one instance, it was reported that they took the victim's vehicle.
Under federal law, and many states' laws, when a crime is motivated by the perpetrator's hate towards a person's race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, the crime may be punished as a hate crime. Frequently, hate crimes are very serious crimes on their own, such as battery, kidnapping, assault with a weapon, and all too often, homicide. In many states, even those without hate crime statutes, if a hateful motive is discovered, charges can filed as "aggravated" crimes, or "enhancements" can be tacked onto the underlying charges.
Unfortunately for victims, hate crime laws generally require inquiry into a perpetrator's motives. This means that if there were no visible or audible cues, hate crime statutes can be difficult to enforce. Although, with the recent developments in social media, sometimes a perpetrator's motives can be discovered via a simple Google search.
Penalties for Hate Crimes
When a defendant is convicted on a hate crime charge, the penalties can be much more severe than the underlying charge would normally result in. For instance, the recently arrested Texan defendants each face up to life in prison and $250,000 in fines. Under federal law, usually a hate crime will result in up to a 10-year sentence. However, a life sentence can be imposed if someone dies, if there was a kidnapping, or if the victim was sexually assaulted.