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Beard Cutting: Is That Hate Crime?

| Aug 2, 2015 | Criminal Defense |

A string of assaults (beard cuttings) in several Amish communities in Ohio gave rise to prosecution under Section 2 the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. A jury convicted all of the men charged with this hate crime. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the convictions stating that the trial court improperly instructed the jury. The central issue at trial was whether the defendants committed the assaults “because of” the religion of the victims. 18 U.S.C. § 249(a)(2)(A). In instructing the jury on this point, the trial court rejected the defendants’ proposed instruction (that the faith of the victims must be a “but for” cause of the assaults) and adopted the government’s proposed instruction (that the faith of the victims must be a “significant factor” in motivating the assaults).

Read the case here >>