Can hate crime laws be used against hate on the Internet?
If a person's use of the Internet rises to the level of criminal conduct, it may subject the perpetrator to an enhanced sentence under a State's hate crime laws. Currently, 40 States and the District of Columbia have such laws in place. The criminal's sentence may be more severe if the prosecution can prove that he or she intentionally selected the victim based on his or her race, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. However, these laws do not apply to conduct or speech protected by the First Amendment.