Hate Crimes

Criminal Lawyers in Hate Crimes

Hate Crime

Hate Crime Lawyer

What is a hate crime?

Hate crimes are those crimes committed against persons or properties, chosen because of their connection, sympathy, affiliation, support or belonging, real or supposed, to a group with shared characteristics such as age, gender, race, ethnic or national origin, ideology, language, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or identity, disease, disability or similar.

The purpose of this crime, included in article 510 of the penal code, is to protect these social minorities from offenses that not only seek to harm the victim of the crime but also to convey a message of rejection and threat against the entire group of people of which they are a part, seriously endangering the everyday coexistence and social peace. For this reason, our legal system includes stricter penalties for these crimes.

Hate Crime Lawyer. Esteban Abogados Penalistas. Barcelona
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The protected legal right in hate crime

The protected legal right is the person’s dignity, which is one of the foundations of political order and social peace. Hate crime is an attack on the constitutional order and, therefore, on the system of freedom and rights of a democratic society.

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Necessary elements for the occurrence of a hate crime

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Not every aggression is considered a hate crime. An unequal or discriminatory treatment that is not justified in an objective, reasonable, or proportionate manner will be regarded as a hate crime when the action or omission on the victim can only be understood as a disregard for human dignity, an attack on the fact of being different, demonstrating an intolerance that is incompatible with coexistence.

The elements that must concur in this crime are the following:

a) The perpetrator must select his victims for reasons of intolerance or motivated by bias and within the vulnerable groups referred to in the law.
b) The conduct frightens the victim and the entire group to which he/she belongs, creating feelings of insecurity, threat, and undermining dignity.
c) The expressions must attack the basic rules of coexistence based on respect and tolerance.
d) They must be messages that deserve a grave qualification due to the generation of hatred that damages dignity or the incitement to commit terrorist acts.
e) The intention pursued by the author is to attack.

Types of Hate Crimes

Our hate crime criminal lawyers have extensive experience as specialists in this area.

For racist motives

The General Assembly of the United Nations on December 21, 1965 (BOE of May 17, 1969) defined racial discrimination as «any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on person’s race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life» (art. 1.1).

On anti-Semitic grounds

Anti-Semitism is understood as prejudice, hatred, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, cultural, political, and economic group.

On grounds relating to ideology, religion, or belief.

Ideology would include any belief in a particular form of political, social, economic, or cultural organization of the state.

Religion or belief refers to spiritual or transcendent beliefs about divinity or an ethical or moral system.

Family status

Those acts discriminate based on affiliation, marital status, activity, expression, or belief of family members, guardians, adoptive parents, or persons in charge of guardianship or foster care.

For belonging of its members to an ethnic group or race.

Ethnicity, nation, or social origin is understood as the place of birth, origin, or ancestry.

Based on sex, sexual orientation, or identity

Sexual or gender identity is understood as how each person feels he/she defines him/herself sexually, regardless of biological sex, including modification of bodily appearance or function through surgical or other means, dress, speech, and mannerisms.

Based on gender

The mention of «gender» has to be understood as referring to women, as well indicated by the STS 565/2018 judgment of November 19:

«The aggravating factor of gender must be applied in all those cases in which it has been accredited that the perpetrator has committed the facts against the female victim for the mere fact of being a woman and intending to make clear his feeling of superiority over her, that is, in those cases in which the fact was committed for that motivation, which goes against the constitutional principle of equality.»

Reasons of illness

In this case, the criminal type would refer to the more or less severe alteration of permanent or lasting health.

Reasons of disability

It shall be considered a hate crime to act against a person or his property for the mere fact of having a disability, i.e., physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments of a permanent nature and requiring assistance or support for the exercise of his legal capacity and for making decisions regarding his person, rights or interests because of his impairments.

General criteria to assess the existence of a hate motive.

In our criminal law firm, experts in hate crimes, you will find the seriousness and professionalism that your case needs.

To assess the existence or not of a hate crime, the following indicators will be considered, which can be grouped into three main groups: the victim, the perpetrator, and the context.

The victim

  • The victim’s perception of the motive for the behavior
  • The victim’s membership in one of the groups described in the criminal offense, in associations that support them, or personal, family, work, or friendship relationships with people related to these groups.

The perpetrator of the act

The characteristics or circumstances surrounding the perpetrator of the crime will be assessed:

  • Police or criminal record for similar conduct.
  • Analysis of his communications on social networks
  • Phrases or gestures made at the time of the criminal act.
  • His membership in groups is characterized by their hatred towards specific collectives, such as neo-Nazis, ultras, anti-Semitic racists, or other groups, and his leadership in them. When the perpetrator of the crime does not recognize this membership, other elements such as tattoos, clothing, or hairstyles identifying with this group will be taken as a reference.
  • Instruments used or carried (flags, scarves, banners) associated with any of these groups.


Although the context in each case can vary, the following can be considered as the context of a group’s activities.

Freedom of expression versus hate speech

Hate speech does not sanction ideas or opinions but expressions of hatred towards another human being that show contempt for being different. Freedom of expression, although a primary pillar of a free and democratic society, is not an absolute right and cannot be placed above another person’s dignity.

Hate speech shall not be considered hate speech, demonstrations intended to be hilarious, and those made out of vengeance in an ad hoc manner.

Media dissemination of hate speech

Suppose any crimes included in Article 510 of the criminal code were carried out through social networks, the Internet, or information technology. In that case, the responsibility for the crime will be increased. The penalty applied will be aggravated by making this information accessible to more people and expanding the prejudice of the victims of these crimes.

Numerous social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Webedia/Jeuxvideo.com, and Dailymotion, signed a code of conduct on combating illegal online hate speech. When content is reported as unlawful hate speech, these platforms remove it and make it available to the competent authorities.

Hate Crime Penalties

As Hate Crime Lawyers, we have a deep knowledge of the law.

Those who will be punished with a prison sentence of one to four years and a fine of six to twelve months will be punished with a prison sentence of one to four years and a fine of six to twelve months:
  • Encourage, promote, or incite directly or indirectly hatred, hostility, discrimination, or violence.
  • Produce, elaborate, possess to distribute, facilitate access to third parties, distribute, disseminate, or sell writings or any other material or media that, due to their content, are suitable for the above situation.
  • Who publicly deny, trivialize seriously, or glorify the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, or crimes against persons and property protected in case of armed conflict, or promote their perpetrators when they have been committed against a group or a part thereof.
The following shall be punished with a prison sentence of six months to two years and a fine of six to twelve months:
  • Injure the dignity of persons through actions that involve humiliation, contempt, or discredit of any of the groups as mentioned earlier, a part of them, or any person determined because they belong to them. Or produce, elaborate, possess to distribute, facilitate access to third parties, distribute, disseminate, or sell writings or any other type of material or media which, due to their content, are suitable to harm the dignity of persons.
  • Exalt or justify by any means of public expression or dissemination the crimes committed against a group, a part of it, or against a person for belonging to them.
The penalties will be imposed in their upper half when:
  • Any facts commented on in the previous sections are carried out through social media, such as the Internet or any other information technology.
  • When the facts are suitable to disturb the public peace or create a severe feeling of insecurity or fear among the group members, in this case, the penalty could be aggravated to the highest degree.
If you are involved in a hate crime, a crime punishable by up to four years in prison, contact the best criminal defense lawyers in Barcelona. We will analyze your case and study the best strategy to follow.