For members of marginalized groups, fear of being targeted for the sole reason of one's identity is constant. Commonplace crimes can be all the more damaging and even traumatizing when they come from a place of pure, biased hatred. Regaining what your attacker has deprived is a complicated process. Here at Smiley and Smiley, LLP, we strive to use our resources to help you get back on your feet.
What is Article 485?
The New York Police Department conducts investigations involving hate crimes and other "bias instances" within a special unit: the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force. Article 485 of the New York State Penal Code defines a hate crime as a crime in which the victim is chosen partially or entirely because of "race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation." New York State courts treat hate crimes as a more serious offense than their parallel crimes on the books. Hate crimes can cause much more personal trauma than randomized crime.
If you are a victim:
If you have been a victim of a crime, and you believe that you were victimized specifically because of your identity, what should you do?
- It is imperative to call 911 as soon as possible in order to provide the police with an accurate report and give them access to crime scene evidence. If you have been raped or otherwise assaulted, a rape kit must be administered to collect any potential DNA and to assess the severity of your injuries.
- You may be referred to the Office of Victim Services, which provides help and guidance to victims of many crimes. They may be able to help in compensating for lost wages, medical expenses, etc. OVS can also connect victims to local programs that offer monetary compensation and counseling. However, before OVS can assist victims monetarily, the payment must be judged as a last resort by the agency. This means that the victim has already run out of financial options.
- Take care of yourself. As a victim of a hate crime, you may be going through some tough times. It is okay to reach out to loves ones and professional counselors so that you may begin the healing process.
There are multiple hoops one must jump through in order to get any real financial compensation from OVS. Eligibility requirements are strict, especially for victims who did not file a report with the police immediately, out of shame, denial or any of the many reasons a victim may not wish to divulge information about such a traumatic event so soon. If any of the parties adjacent to your case have shown negligence, you may be able to sue for damages.
Contact Us Immediately
With legal expertise and a history of success, Smiley and Smiley, LLP, can help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve. It may be time to contact us and discuss your legal and financial future.