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Criminal Civil Rights Laws

Here is a list of the most common Criminal Civil Rights statutes that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and/or the U.S. Attorney’s Office has a role in enforcing.

 

Conspiracy Against Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 241

Civil Rights Conspiracy Statute - Section 241 makes it unlawful for two or more persons to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate an individual in the free exercise or enjoyment of his or her constitutionally protected rights.

 

Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, 18 U.S.C. § 242

Deprivation of Rights under the Color of Law - Section 242 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, including acts done by federal, state, or local officials within their lawful authority, as well as acts done beyond that authority, if they are done while the official is purporting to or pretending to act in the performance of his or 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

 

Criminal Interference with Right to Fair Housing, 42 U.S.C. § 3631 (Civil Rights Act of 1968)

Hate Crimes: Criminal Interference with Fair Housing Rights - Section 3631 makes it unlawful for an individual to use force or threaten to use force 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. The statute also makes it unlawful to similarly use force or threaten to use force against anyone who is assisting an individual or class of persons in the exercise of their housing rights.

 

Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights, 18 U.S.C. § 245 (Civil Rights Act of 1968)

Hate Crimes: Criminal Interference with Federally Protected Rights - Section 3631 makes it a crime to use, or threaten to use force to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education, employment, jury service, travel, or the enjoyment of public accommodations, or helping another person to do so.

 

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, 18 U.S.C. § 249

Hate Crimes - Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury (or

attempting to do so with fire, firearm, or other 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. The statute criminalizes only violent acts resulting in bodily injury or attempts to inflict bodily injury, NOT threats of violence (which may be prosecutable under other hate crimes statutes).

 

18 U.S.C. §§ 875, 876, Threatening Communication Act and the Cochran-Hull Act

Hate Crimes: Bias Motivated Communication of Threats - Section 875 makes it

a crime to demand or request a ransom or reward for the release of a kidnapped person. The statute also makes illegal the transmission of any communication in interstate or foreign commerce that threatens to kidnap or injure the person of another. Further, the statute makes unlawful the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another, or the reputation of a deceased person, as well as threats to accuse the addressee or another of a crime.

 

Similarly, Section 876 makes illegal the mailing of threatening communications. The statute makes it unlawful to deposit in any post office or authorized depository any communication demanding or requesting a ransom or reward for the release of any kidnapped person, threats to kidnap or to injure, and threats to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another, the reputation of a deceased person, or any threat to accuse another of a crime.

 

18 U.S.C. § 247, Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996

Damage to Religious Property - Section 247 prohibits anyone from intentionally defacing, damaging, or destroying religious property because of the religious nature of the property, so long as the crime is committed in or affects interstate commerce. It also prohibits anyone from intentionally obstructing or attempting to obstruct, by force or threat of force, an individual’s enjoyment of his or her religious beliefs. 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.

 

Intimidation of Voters, 18 U.S.C. § 594 National Voter Registration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-10(1)

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.

 

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.

 

18 U.S.C. § 248, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (“FACE”)

Criminal Interference with Access to Reproductive Health Services – Section 248 makes it unlawful for a person to use force, threat of force, or physical obstruction to intentionally injure or intimidate a person (1) because he or she has been obtaining or providing reproductive health services, or (2) because he or she is lawfully exercising the right of religious freedom at a place of worship. The statute also 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.

 

Mann Act 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421-2424

Transportation for Illegal Sexual Activity - Transportation Generally - Section 2421 makes it illegal to knowingly transport any individual in interstate or foreign commerce with intent that such individual engage in prostitution or in any sexual activity that can be criminally charged.

 

Coercion and Enticement - Section 2422 makes it illegal to knowingly persuade, induce, entice or coerce any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce to engage in prostitution, or in any sexual activity for which the person can be charged with a criminally offense.

 

Transportation of Minors - Section 2423 makes it illegal to knowingly transport an individual under the age of 18 with intent that the minor engage in prostitution or any sexual activity that can be criminally charged. Section 2423 also makes it illegal for persons to travel into the U.S. for purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with minors. Similarly, it is illegal for a U.S. citizen or alien admitted for permanent residence to travel in foreign commerce to engage in sexual conduct with a minor. Those with the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, who arrange, induce, procure or facilitate the travel of a minor in interstate or foreign commerce are subject to prosecution under this statute. This section also covers conspiracy.

 

Filing Factual Statement About Alien Individual – Section 2424 makes it illegal to keep, maintain, control, support or harbor in any house or place for the purpose of prostitution or for other immoral purpose, any individual, knowingly or in reckless disregard of the fact that the individual is an alien shall file with the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization a written statement with key information about that individual within specific time frames.

 

18 U.S.C. §§ 1581,1584, 1589, 1591-1592, Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000

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.

 

Human Trafficking: Document Seizure - Section 1592 makes it illegal to seize documents in order to force others to work. The statute includes false documents as well as official documents.

 

 

Updated January 27, 2017

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