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Baltimore assault case could be treated as hate crime

Within the legal system, labeling certain offenses as hate crimes is a relatively new reality in some states. Maryland has pretty extensive legislation regarding hate crimes, a reality that could mean big trouble for two young defendants accused of assaulting a transgender woman at a Baltimore McDonald's.

It's a case that has made national news due to the possible hate crime charges that could be levied against the female assault suspects. Last week, the two suspects were arrested for attacking a woman in McDonald's. The national public has also been heavily focused on this case because a video of that alleged attack was posted online for all to see.

There is no doubt that the attack shown on the YouTube video was serious, so serious, in fact, that the victim suffered a seizure following the alleged assault. Where there is doubt, however, is in determining whether the assault was motivated by hate and prejudice.

The 22-year-old victim of the alleged assault is admittedly a transgender woman. That detail has her, the public and potentially authorities suspecting that the violent incident was initiated by the suspects because of their intolerance.

Currently, both suspects face assault charges. One of the suspects is 18, and she is charged with first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. The second suspect is a juvenile and faces a single second-degree assault charge.

If investigators find sufficient reason to label this as a hate crime, that would increase the severity of sentencing that the Maryland suspects could face. If found guilty of a hate crime, the women could have to serve an additional ten years in prison and pay an additional $10,000 in fines on top of whatever sentences they face for the basic assault charges.

The investigation into the high-profile, emotion-evoking incident is ongoing. We will post an update when there are developments in the investigation.

Source

CNN: "Prosecutors weigh additional charges in Maryland McDonald's attack," Dana Ford and Sarah Carden, 26 Apr. 2011

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