State and Local Guarantees of Civil Rights – Criminal Statutes
In several states, numerous civil rights statutes provide that when a person deprives another person’s civil right, it amounts to a criminal offense. These statutes further provide that an intent to commit the offense is not an element in determine the guilt of the offender. Therefore, if the offender intentionally or unintentionally engages in an activity that clearly deprives another persons civil right, the offender will be guilty of the crime on a strict liability basis.
The prevention of violence or the threat of violence statues enacted by various states is the most common among state legislations that guarantee civil rights to individuals. Some states have also enacted statutes criminalizing what have come to be known as “hate crimes” or “hate speech.” A “hate crime” is a crime in which the offender’s conduct was motivated by hatred, bias, or prejudice, based on the race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation of another individual.