A viral video was released earlier this month, allegedly showing a man berating a woman for wearing a t-shirt of the Puerto Rican flag. The man is now facing serious charges in a New York court after the initial charges against him were upgraded by the court. He now faces two counts of felony hate crime and, if convicted, could face jail time. No court date has been set, but the man will be represented by a criminal defense attorney throughout the proceedings.
According to video recorded at the scene of the altercation on June 14, the man, who police believe was intoxicated at the time, reportedly verbally abused a woman at a park for wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag. The man allegedly used racist language and became physically intimidating as the altercation progressed. A Forest Preserves officer on the scene reportedly ignored the woman's pleas for help and has since resigned from the service.
The man was initially arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and assault. However, as authorities had the opportunity to review the case, they decided the charges should be upgraded. The man was re-arrested and charged with felony hate crimes. The case has gained considerable media attention in the wake of a rising trend of hate-related crimes across the country.
Hate crime charges can be politically charged and have tremendous impact on an individual's future plans. A New York resident accused of spreading or initiating hate could face termination at his or her place of employment as well as social stigma in his or her private lives, in addition to criminal censure. The potential damage to a reputation means it is all the more important for New York prosecutors to provide compelling evidence that the man was wilfully spreading hate. His criminal defense representation will argue against those charges after carefully reviewing all evidence associated with the case.