Bias Intimidation (Part 2)

by | Dec 19, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Atlantic County Law Division continued in relevant part: The indictment alleges that defendant’s threats were motivated by racial bias and were directed at A.P. and her daughter with the purpose of instilling fear. Based on defendant’s use of the words “mutt” “mongrel” and “spic” and his admission that he “takes offense to biracial relationships and children of those relationships,” defendant was evidently targeting A.P. and her daughter because of the young girl’s race and because of A.P.’s interracial relationship. As a white woman who chose to have relations with a non-white man and bear his child, A.P. was purposely targeted by defendant because of her race and defendant’s distaste for interracial relationships.

The statute for bias intimidation does not require the victim be of a minority race; simply that the intimidation be race-based. The evidence presented to the grand jury established that defendant’s terroristic threats were motivated by both A.P.’s race and her daughter’s. It is unlikely that the threats would have been leveled at A.P. if she was Hispanic, given defendant’s statement to police that he “takes offense to interracial relationships and children of those relationships.”

Additionally, the child is a victim of defendant’s threats as defendant told her mother he would “strangle” the “mongrel” child and “bash her head in.” Defendant made these threats because of his distaste for interracial relationships and children of those relationships. Other jurisdictions focus on the relationship between the recipient of the threat and the intended victim. See United States v. Bellrichard, 779 F. Supp. 454, 460 (D. Minn. 1991); State v. Fenton, 30 F. Supp. 2d 520 (W.D. Pa. 1998).

The Appellate Division has thus far refrained from ruling on whether the State must prove the intended victim of the terroristic threat actually knew of the threat. State v. Ortisi, (App. Div. 1998) (explaining that “we leave for another day the issue of whether victims must be made aware of the threat”). In Ortisi, the defendant called the Clerk’s Office of the Appellate Division and stated he was “taking the law into his own hands now” and that he would “start with those jackasses in the Prosecutor’s Office, Fava and Murphy.”

Here, the defendant did not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence with regard to the terroristic threats charge. The priority was attacking the bias intimidation charges since they are more serious and expose the defendant to a much more severe punishment.

Terroristic threats is a third-degree offense for which a defendant can receive probation.

Bias intimidation is graded one degree higher than the underlying offense. In this case, it would be a second-degree crime with a mandatory prison term upon conviction.