Can Some Forms of Grand Larceny Be Viewed as Hate Crimes?

Apparently prosecutors in Queens County New York think so. This month Queens prosecutors have charged two women with stealing more than $30,000 from three elderly men they had befriended separately. The women were charged with grand larceny as a hate crime.

This strategy of treating some hate crimes as larcenous behavior is considered a novel approach. Indeed Kathleen Hogan, president of the New York State District Attorneys Association and Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys’ Association have both said they had not heard of another jurisdiction using this Queens County approach to hate crimes.

According to a New York Times article by Anne Barnard, A Novel Twist for Prosecution of Hate Crimes, “the legal thinking behind the novel method is that New York’s hate crime statute does not require prosecutors to prove defendants ‘hate’ the group the victim belongs to, that they commit the crime because of some belief, correct or not, they hold about the group.”

This is different than the standard public perception of hate crimes as resulting an animus against or “hate” of a particular ethnicity, as described in “Hate Crimes and Revealing Motivation Through Racial Slurs” as posted in the September 2009 The Jury Expert: The Art As Science of Litigation Advocacy, September 2009, “hate” of a particular sexual orientation, or similar strong, negative feelings toward a particular individual or group.

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