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Connecticut lawmakers pass law to increase hate-crime penalties

Connecticut lawmakers have passed a new law that -- if approved by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy -- will increase the penalties associated with hate crimes. According to the co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it's the best law they've developed in 2017.

The bipartisan bill had already passed the House of Representatives and, in the first week of June, the Senate approved the measure in a vote of 36-0. Now it will fall into the hands of Gov. Malloy to be approved.

If the law goes into effect, it would elevate the current misdemeanor hate-crime to the level of a felony. It would also bring gender-related hate crimes into the context of the law. If someone attacks another person because of their gender, race or other protected status, the attacker could be charged with a felony-level hate crime.

In addition, the new law would elevate Class D felony-level hate crimes involving threats against a house of worship to the status of Class C felonies. If convicted of this kind of crime, defendants could face a 10-year prison sentence in addition to $10,000 in fines.

A senator who supports the measure said that our communities will not tolerate hate crime acts. When speaking in favor of the bill, she recounted an anti-Semitic hate crime that happened in her town in recent years.

Defendants facing hate crime charges could face serious criminal consequences if they are convicted. However, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular crime was, in fact, hate-related. Until that happens, Connecticut defendants will have the opportunity to defend themselves against the charges in court.

Source: Connecticut Post, "Senate enhances penalties for hate crimes," Ken Dixon, June 06, 2017

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