Hate crimes are intolerant, based in bigotry and attack others based on their ethnicities, religions, disabilities, sexual orientations or a number of other personal traits. Those who commit hate crimes do a range of things from being violent toward these individuals to verbally threatening them to instill fear.
If you're accused of participating in a hate crime, it's very important that you begin to defend yourself immediately. Hate crimes are federal crimes, so they can be charged at the federal level and may result in harsher penalties than state charges.
There are a few ways you can defend yourself if you're accused of participating in hate crimes. The first would be to show you weren't present or participating in a crime. If you have an alibi for your whereabouts, this can be a good choice for you. Another possibility would be to show why your comments were taken out of context or that you did not intend to threaten or injure someone.
It's sometimes the case that someone assumes a crime was a hate crime when it was simply not. For example, if a white man gets into a fight with a black man, it can quickly be assumed that it was a hate crime based in racism. However, you may be able to show that the fight itself stemmed from something that was not related to skin color or race at all, and that would help you defend your case. Your attorney can talk to you about what you can do to defend yourself from the stigma of a hate crime.
Source: FindLaw, "Hate Crime: The Violence of Intolerance," accessed Jan. 17, 2017