This article explores how bias crimes differ from parallel crimes and why this distinction makes a crucial difference in our criminal law. Bias crimes differ from parallel crimes as a matter of both the resulting harm and the mental state of the offender. The nature of the injury sustained by the immediate victim of a bias crime exceeds the harm caused by a parallel crime. Moreover, bias crimes inflict a palpable harm on the broader target community of the crime as well as on society at large, while parallel crimes do not generally cause such widespread injury.
The distinction between bias crimes and parallel crimes also concerns the perpetrator's state of mind and, specifically, his bias motivation toward his victim. The punishment of an individual offender for the commission of a bias crime is warranted by the state of mind with which he acts.
Frederick M. Lawrence,
The Punishment of Hate: Toward a Normative Theory of Bias-Motivated Crimes,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol93/iss2/3