Could resisting arrest get you charged with a hate crime?
In Louisiana, yes. Last year, Louisiana became the first state to enact what is now known as a “Blue Lives Matter” law, resisting arrest and scuffling with police can be interpreted as an assault or an attack — which is seen as a hate crime against police and emergency responders of any sort.
Kentucky and Mississippi followed suit, and Texas is the newest state to pass such legislation. Over a dozen other states have laws under consideration that would have a similar legal effect.
What many citizens don’t realize is that in the fervor to stop violence against first responders, the laws have been hastily crafted and can be interpreted to make any sort of resistance to arrest a hate crime — substantially increasing the penalty that someone could face.
Prior to the Blue Lives Matter law taking effect, shoving a police officer was just a battery charge, and resisting arrest was just resisting arrest. With the hate crime enhancement, offenders in Louisiana could potentially face an additional $5,000 fine — unless the judge feels like adding a five-year sentence on for good measure in addition to whatever felony charge the defendant faces. If the offender is faced with a misdemeanor, the hate crime adds an additional six-month jail term or a $500 fine.
Naturally, not everyone is a fan of the measure. While proponents say that it encourages the public to cooperate, groups like the Anti-Defamation League oppose the bill extending what has traditionally been an idea extended to those of a different gender, sexual orientation, race or religion to those of a specific profession. They say that it is difficult to equate someone beating a person who is gay while yelling anti-gay slurs with someone just trying to evade handcuffs.
Regardless of the opposition, residents of Louisiana and other states with Blue Lives Matter laws need to take note: what was once a simple issue of scuffling with an officer or tussling with an EMT — even if you were drugged or drunk — could now escalate into a hate crime. For more information on criminal defense, it’s important to seek legal assistance.
Source: Newsweek, “Texas Made Attacking Cops A Hate Crime; These States Could Be Next,” Max Kutner, June 21, 2017