Texas residents who have been victims of hate crimes should be aware that the Civil Rights Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is tasked with investigating such crimes. Every year, the agency investigates hundreds of hate crimes and makes efforts to identify and prevent additional incidents by using public outreach, associations with various community groups and law enforcement training.
The investigations of hate crimes that were conducted by the FBI used to be restricted to the crimes in which the alleged offender committed acts based on their bias against a person’s national origin, race, religion or color. The investigations were also limited to cases in which the victims of the hate crime were taking part in federally protected activities. The agency began investigating hate crimes with no restrictions after the promulgation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, which also increased the agency’s reach with regard to the investigation of hate crimes that took place against individuals based on the offender’s biases of perceived or actual disabilities, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal government considered the protection of civil rights to be within the purview of local law enforcement authorities. However, after the murders of civil rights workers who were killed in June 1964 in Mississippi, the federal government determined that there was a substantial need for a noticeable and ongoing federal effort to safeguard the civil rights of Black people in the United States.
An attorney who practices criminal defense law may advise clients who have been accused of federal crimes about their legal options. The attorney may work to have charges reduced or litigate to protect a client’s rights.