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Criminal Law Dealing with Hate Crimes

Functional Comparative Law- Germany vs. USA


Christine Marie Shavers

This study aims at providing a contribution to the current issue of hate crime. It analyzes the possibilities which are served by the German and the US American law to penalize bias-motivated crimes, while considering the historical and social background of both societies. It is questioned which legal goods are harmed by the committal of hate crime and whether the German penal law is suitable to address the wrong of hate crime and whether it is capable of properly punishing this sort of crime in respect to the blameworthiness of the offender. By applying the functional method of law comparison, understandings regarding the handlings of hate crimes in the USA and in Germany are exploited and, as a result, possible solutions for weaknesses of the prevailing law are offered.
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Chapter 3 Hate Crime in the United States of America


The American legislature finds and determines that criminal acts involving violence, intimidation and destruction of property based upon bias and prejudice have become more prevalent in the United States of America848. The legislature addresses their increasing appearance and the seriousness of such “crimes and threats against persons because of their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicaps”. The basic idea of hate crime legislation is that such acts are more damaging to society than “ordinary” offenses motivated by other base motives. They do not only wound the particular victim to a greater degree, but they also “threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens” in such an extreme way that they “tear at the very fabric of free society” and thus dangerously harm democracy849. Since hate crimes are considered to be different due to their wider and deeper repercussions on particular victims and on society in comparison to “usual” crimes, they must be treated differently. Intolerance and discrimination played a huge role in determining the harmfulness of such crimes. The legislature of the United States embodied the unified opinion that ordinary “law does not adequately recognize the harm to public order and individual safety that hate crimes cause”.850 Accordingly, hate crimes are prosecuted and punished with severity, resulting in harsher sentences in comparison to other parallel crimes.

A. Course of Action

This research will focus on statutes contained in criminal codes which penalize bias-motivated behavior....

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