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Hate Crimes
Damage to Religious Property
Human Trafficking
Freedom of Access to Clinics
Official Misconduct
Partial Birth Abortion
Voter Intimidation

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Hate Crimes

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 , 18 U.S.C. 249. Section 249 of Title 18 was enacted as Division E of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (starts at pg. 646 of the Act). Section 249, which went into effect in October 2009, created a new federal criminal prohibition against willfully causing bodily injury (or attempting to do so using fire, a firearm, or another dangerous weapon), when (1) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin of any person, or (2) the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person and the crime affected interstate or foreign commerce or occurred within federal special maritime and territorial jurisdiction. The law also provides federal funding and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to help them to more effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes.

Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing, 42 U.S.C. 3631. Section 3631 of Title 42 makes it unlawful for an individual to use force or threaten to use force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with, or attempt to injure, intimidate, or interfere with, any person's housing rights because of that person's race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. Among those housing rights enumerated in the statute are: 1) the sale, purchase, or renting of a dwelling, 2) the occupation of dwelling, 3) the financing of a dwelling, 4) contracting or negotiating for any of the rights enumerated above, and 5) applying for or participating in any service, organizations, or facility relating to the sale or rental of dwellings.

This statute also makes it unlawful to use force or threaten to use force to injure, intimidate, or interfere with any person who is assisting an individual or class of persons in the exercise of their housing rights. The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

Federally Protected Activities, 18 U.S.C. 245. The portion of Section 245 of Title 18 which is primarily enforced by the Criminal Section makes it unlawful to willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with any person, or to attempt to do so, by force or threat of force, because of that other person's race, color, religion or national origin and because of his/her activity as one of the following:

A student at or applicant for admission to a public school or public college;

A participant in a benefit, service, privilege, program, facility or activity provided or administered by a state or local government;

An applicant for private or state employment; a private or state employee; a member or applicant for membership in a labor organization or hiring hall; or an applicant for employment through an employment agency, labor organization or hiring hall;

A juror or prospective juror in state court;

A traveler or user of a facility of interstate commerce or common carrier;

A patron of a public accommodation or place of exhibition or entertainment, including hotels, motels, restaurants, lunchrooms, bars, gas stations, theaters, concert halls, sports arenas or stadiums.

This statute also prohibits willful interference, by force or threat of force, with a person because he/she is or was participating in, or aiding or encouraging other persons to participate in any of the benefits or activities listed above without discrimination as to race, color, religion, or national origin.

The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

Damage to Religious Property

Damage to Religious Property, 18 U.S.C. 247. Section 247 of Title 18 prohibits anyone from intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying religious real property because of the religious nature of the property, so long as the crime is committed in or affects interstate commerce. The statute also prohibits anyone from intentionally obstructing or attempting to obstruct, by force or threat of force, a person in the enjoyment of that person's religious beliefs, where the crime is committed in or affects interstate commerce. Finally, the statute prohibits anyone from intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying any religious real property because of the race, color, or ethnic characteristics of any individual associated with the property, regardless of any connection to interstate or foreign commerce. Section 247 also prohibits attempts to do any of the above.

The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

 

Human Trafficking

Peonage, 18 U.S.C. 1581. Section 1581 of Title 18 makes it unlawful to hold a person in "debt servitude," or peonage, which is closely related to involuntary servitude. Section 1581 prohibits using force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion to compel a person to work against his/her will. In addition, the victim's involuntary servitude must be tied to the payment of a debt.

Involuntary Servitude, 18 U.S.C. 1584. Section 1584 of Title 18 makes it unlawful to hold a person in a condition of slavery, that is, a condition of compulsory service or labor against his/her will. A Section 1584 conviction requires that the victim be held against his/her will by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion. Section 1584 also prohibits compelling a person to work against his/her will by creating a "climate of fear" through the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion [i.e., If you don't work, I'll call the immigration officials.] which is sufficient to compel service against a person's will.

Forced Labor, 18 U.S.C. 1589. Section 1589 of Title 18, which was passed as part of the TVPA, makes it unlawful to provide or obtain the labor or services of a person through one of three prohibited means. Congress enacted 1589 in response to the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), which interpreted 1584 to require the use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion. Section 1589 broadens the definition of the kinds of coercion that might result in forced labor.

Trafficking with Respect to Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor, 18 U.S.C. 1590. Section 1590 makes it unlawful to recruit, harbor, transport, or broker persons for labor or services under conditions which violate any of the offenses contained in Chapter 77 of Title 18.

Sex Trafficking of Children or by Force, Fraud, or Coercion, 18 U.S.C. 1591. Section 1591 criminalizes sex trafficking, which is defined as causing a person to engage in a commercial sex act under certain statutorily enumerated conditions. A commercial sex act means any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person. The specific conditions are the use of force, fraud, or coercion, or conduct involving persons under the age of 18. The punishment for conduct that either involves a victim who is under the age of 14 or involves force, fraud, or coercion is any term of years or life. The punishment for conduct that involves a victim between the ages of 14 and 18 is 40 years.

Unlawful Conduct with Respect to Documents in Furtherance of Trafficking, Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor , 18 U.S.C. 1592. Section 1592 makes it illegal to seize documents in order to force others to work. By expanding its coverage to false documents as well as official documents, 1592 recognizes that victims are often immobilized by the withholding of whatever documents they possess, even if the documents are forged or fraudulent. Section 1592 expands the scope of federal trafficking statutes to reach those who prey on the vulnerabilities of immigrant victims by controlling their papers.

Additional Provisions Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

Mandatory Restitution, 18 U.S.C. 1593
Attempt and Forfeiture, 18 U.S.C. 1594(a) and
(b) Private Right of Action, 18 U.S.C. 1595
Visa Fraud,18 U.S.C. 1546


Freedom of Access to Clinics

Freedom of Access to Clinics, 18 U.S.C. 248. Section 248 of Title 18 protects the exercise of free choice in obtaining reproductive health services, and the exercise of First Amendment religious freedoms. Section 248 makes it unlawful for a person to use force, threat of force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure or intimidate a person because he/she is or has been obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Section 248 also makes it unlawful for a person to use force, threat of force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure or intimidate a person because he/she is lawfully exercising the right of religious freedom at a place of worship. Finally, Section 248 makes it unlawful for a person to intentionally damage or destroy the property of a facility because it provides reproductive health services, or because it is a place of worship. Section 248 also prohibits anyone from attempting to commit any of the above. Read about the work of the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers .

An offense under this statute is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, depending upon the nature of the offense and whether or not it is a repeat conviction under this statute.


Official Misconduct

Conspiracy Against Rights, 18 U.S.C. 241. Section 241 of Title 18 is the civil rights conspiracy statute. Section 241 makes it unlawful for two or more persons to agree together to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the Unites States, (or because of his/her having exercised the same). Unlike most conspiracy statutes, Section 241 does not require that one of the conspirators commit an overt act prior to the conspiracy becoming a crime. The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, 18 U.S.C. 242. This provision makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

For the purpose of Section 242, acts under "color of law" include acts not only done by federal, state, or local officials within the their lawful authority, but also acts done beyond the bounds of that official's lawful authority, if the acts are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his/her official duties. Persons acting under color of law within the meaning of this statute include police officers, prisons guards and other law enforcement officials, as well as judges, care providers in public health facilities, and others who are acting as public officials. It is not necessary that the crime be motivated by animus toward the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin of the victim.

The offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term, or the death penalty, depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and the resulting injury, if any.

 

Partial Birth Abortion

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, 18 U.S.C. 1531, creates a prohibition of partial-birth abortions. The substantive prohibition in the law is contained in 18 U.S.C. 1531(a), which establishes criminal liability for a "physician (defined at (b)(2)) who, in or affecting interstate commerce, knowingly performs a partial-birth abortion (defined at (b)(1)) and thereby kills a human fetus." Thus, the essential elements of a violation are that the physician must (1) knowingly perform a partial-birth abortion (2) must kill the fetus and (3) the procedure must be in or affecting interstate commerce. Section 1531(a) states that a violator "shall be fined or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both."

18 U.S.C. 1531(a) creates an exception from criminal responsibility, however, if the procedure "is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."

18 U.S.C. 1531(e) clarifies, however, that a woman upon whom a partial-birth abortion is performed may not be prosecuted pursuant to this statute or for a conspiracy to violate this statute.

18 U.S.C. 1531(d) permits a physician to seek a hearing before the State Medical Board to determine whether the physician's conduct was necessary to save the life of the mother and specifies that the findings of the State Medical Board will be admissible at trial.

18 U.S.C. 1531(c)(1) creates a private cause of action for: (1) the father, if married to the mother at the time of the abortion, and (2) when the mother is under 18, the maternal grandparents. The Department of Justice is not authorized by the statute to seek civil relief.

Voter Intimidation

Intimidation of Voters, 18 U.S.C. 594
Section 594 makes it illegal to use intimidation, threats, or coercion, or attempt to use any of these means, to interfere with the right of another to vote or vote as the individual chooses, or to cause the individual to vote or not vote for any particular candidate for federal office.

National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-10(1)
Section 1973gg-10(1) of Title 42 criminalizes, in a federal election, to intimidate, threaten, or coerce a prospective registrant or voter from registering to vote, voting, or attempting to register or vote, or for urging another to register or vote.


General Information Criminal Section
 
Leadership
Robert Moossy
Chief
Contact

(202) 514-3204
FAX - (202) 514-8336
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