Hate crimes have been given intensive attention by federal authorities and are the subject of several federal statutes, including a number of statutes that increase data reporting of such crimes on a national basis. Also on a federal level, enhanced penalties are imposed for crimes involving hate based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, and disability. State laws in Connecticut and elsewhere also provide for criminal charges relating to hate crimes, but each state differs in its treatment by its particular statutory enactment.
These crimes are tough to defend due to the unseemly and repugnant nature of the defendant's alleged conduct. In a recent incident in Connecticut, a man received hate crime charges for attacking a clerk in a grocery store while screaming ethnic and nationality slurs against the clerk. Apparently, the man lunged over the counter to physically assault the clerk. The purported victim was not hurt.
The suspect has been charged with criminal intimidation based on bias and bigotry, along with a traditional assault charge. With witnesses to the events, it's unlikely that the accused will want to go to trial on this matter, at least not unless the facts are substantially different from those reported. Assuming the reported version is fairly accurate, an early plea bargain may be the best criminal defense strategy. Sincere contriteness on the part of the defendant could go a long way toward mitigating the severity of the events.
This may have been a case of drug or alcohol rage that manifested in an outpouring of the man's inner biases. If alcohol was involved, Connecticut criminal defense counsel may want to present that as a mitigating circumstance at sentencing on the criminal charges. Counsel may also present other aspects of the man's life that can lessen the hate crime image that he now portrays, including that the suspect himself is a member of a protected minority.
Source: NBC Connecticut, Man Charged With Hate Crime After Attacking Clerk: Cops, No author, Dec. 6, 2013