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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Is cheating the elderly a hate crime?

In Queens, N.Y., prosecutors have started pursuing some cases with elderly victims as hate crimes, the New York Times reports. Most of these situations involved financial fraud, not assaults, but thanks to a unique twist in state law, prosecutors don't have to prove the defendants "hated" the elderly. The standard is that a crime was committed because the bad guy held a belief about a certain group -- for example, that elderly people are slower mentally and, thus, easier to trick.

A thief could technically love the elderly and still get busted for a hate crime.

I know a lot of our regular readers have serious concerns about hate-crime laws and their fairness. But prosecutors note that, thanks to the hate-crime add-on, they've been able to get stiffer sentences against crooks who've ruined the elderly's financial lives. Does this one pass the smell test?

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