1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Hate crimes in the 1970s

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JosephMarch, May 28, 2014.

    Perhaps someone can help with this, sort of a two part question:

    To what extent were hate crimes taken seriously in the 1970s (California)? I know the term is new, but say a crime was racially motivated, an attack, what would the charges be? Any idea?

    And, how important is it to the story to discuss what happens to the criminals? The MC and secondary MC are the victims, but the story is not about the attack on them; it is the turning point of the novel, however.

    How much does the reader need to know about what happens to the bad guys, court stuff, etc?
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The term is relatively new, yes, and there was some discussion about whether hate crimes in and of themselves violate free speech, since the underlying crime is the same. But whatever the underlying crime is is what would have been charged -- arson, vandalism, assault, battery, murder, attempted murder, etc.

    If the criminals themselves are not important to the story and the idea of justice vis a vis the perpetrators isn't a main focus of the book, I think it's okay to just tell us what happened. When stories get into portraying the criminal justice system, and the author knows nothing about how the criminal justice system actually works, the author loses all credibility for me. So, you either have to really do it right, and do extensive research (unless you already know how it works, like, if you are a prosecutor or something) or just let us find out the way the characters do. (The criminals could accept a plea bargain, which eliminates the need to even go into a trial, having your characters testify, etc. You can just have them find out via a phone call or something.)
     
  3. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Ah, now I'm realizing I need to think this through more. I have my MC leaving the state shortly after the crime occurs. Would she be needed as a witness? What if there were other witnesses, and the criminals had priors? I want to wrap it up in a realistic way, without getting into the legal side of it, but not just saying 'the bad guys went away for good', which of course, is way too easy. Hmm...
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    If there's a trial, she likely would be needed as a witness, although there are all sorts of complications. They need jurisdiction over the witness to issue a subpoena and serve it on her, and if she's hell-bent on not showing up, generally, a court would enter a warrant to arrest her and compel her to testify if she does not want to show, but this could only happen if she were present in the state. (She could be extradited, but I doubt they'd go to this much hassle unless this were some kind of really major case.) Again, the criminals could take a plea bargain agreement. But if they're agreeing to a life sentence or some kind of very long sentence, that would likely only occur if the prosecutor, for example, said they would not pursue the death penalty. And for the death penalty to have been an option the crime would have had to involve at least one murder.

    The nice thing about having your criminals accept a plea bargain, again, is that you don't have to go into all the trial aspects or have your MC worry about testifying.
     
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  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i lived in california during the '70s and am sure that 'hate crimes' were not an issue back then...

    racial or religious, or gender animus in re the commission of a crime would not have been generally considered a charging or sentencing factor... only the nature of the crime itself would determine the charge and it would be up to a jury to decide if the bias of the perp contributed to the motive... in sentencing, the judge might take it into consideration, but not be bound legally to do so, because 'hate crime' did not become an aggravating factor till years later...
     

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