D.A. says he has no workable hate crimes laws in his arsenal

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Edmunds Tucker St. George, UT
    Jan. 27, 2019 8:56 a.m.

    ''Utah law - 76-3-203.3. Penalty for hate crimes -- Civil rights violation.
    As used in this section:
    (1)"Primary offense" means those offenses provided in Subsection (4).
    (2)(a)A person who commits any primary offense with the intent to intimidate or terrorize another person etc'' - Utah has hate crime laws. Perhaps the D.A. should go back to the books.

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 1:16 p.m.

    H. Bob
    Police officers are not a minority group. Nobody is born a police officer.

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 9:44 a.m.

    "A blanket law that says 'all attacks against a minority group should be punished more severely' is the opposite of this flexibility, and possibly unconstitutional. It treats the lives of a specific sub group of US citizens as more valuable than those of others."
    I guess we should rescind all those laws that give enhanced penalties for assaulting or killing police officers, then, right?

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 8:41 a.m.

    Of course our justice system takes intent into account. It's a big factor in juries deciding if someone is guilty and in the sentencing of a criminal. That's the part of the system that takes intent into account - the part that can treat each criminal act individually and which calls on the judgement of their peers and a judge to determine if it should be a factor when deciding punishment.

    A blanket law that says "all attacks against a minority group should be punished more severely" is the opposite of this flexibility, and possibly unconstitutional. It treats the lives of a specific sub group of US citizens as more valuable than those of others.

    Leave the question of intent in the hands of juries and judges. Don't pass blanket legislation treating some of us as more equal than others.

  • The Trooper South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 7:52 a.m.

    These pro hate crime comments don't hold water. It can't be prosecuted as assault, it has to be prosecuted as hateful assault? Hate crime legislation is about politics, not justice. This guy is going to jail and it sends the message it should send: Beating people up in Utah for no good reason is against the law and you will go to jail for it.

  • at long last. . . Kirksville , MO
    Dec. 5, 2018 7:37 a.m.

    There is no need for anything relating to 'hate'. Laws against crimes are sufficient and don't require mind-reading on the part of law enforcement. Hate crime enhancements are just needless punitive action to make people feel good about 'doing something' to address perceived 'hate' against so-called minorities.

    If you think these additions for so-called 'hate crimes' are good, just ask yourself how many times you have heard of any charges where Whites are the victims. Now consider how many crimes are committed against White folks by so-called minorities. See the problem?

  • reriding Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 5, 2018 12:01 a.m.

    Intention and knowledge of wrongdoing is basic to all but the most heinous crimes, like homicide. The phrase "malice aforethought" comes to mind. In other words, the state of mind is vital in deciding the level of guilt of the criminal. This is nothing new in the law, although it differs between jurisdictions and over hundreds of years of common law. Why then is it such a stretch to add another level of mens rea, hate?

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 7:23 p.m.

    Prometheus Platypus: "It' puts fear into those of the same group, which makes it bigger then [sic] one assault."

    This is true of any serial assailant. Who was not fearful when the D.C. Sniper was killing people randomly? All women are afraid when a serial rapist is on the loose. Aren't MORE people victims (based on your logic) when an assailant targets people indiscriminately?

    Based on your reasoning, a crime that targets only one particular group is not as serious because everyone who is not part of that group can relax. If only Mormon missionaries are targets, all of the Jehovah's Witnesses, Evangelicals, etc., can go about business as usual. Fewer people are afraid. Does that make it any better?

    Isn’t one the underpinnings of our whole system that all human life has the same value regardless of race, religion, gender, social status, ethnicity, etc?

  • one old man MSC, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 7:09 p.m.

    Some attacks are made incidental to a crime of some kind.

    A robber beats, stabs, or shoots a store clerk -- not because the clerk belongs any particular group, but because the clerk stands in the way of the robber being able to easily grab the cash drawer and run with it. A spouse beats a partner in a fit of rage. Or in any of thousands of other scenarios, a person is attacked not because of who they are what they believe, but because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    On the other hand, there are attacks with the deliberate intent to instill fear or to intimidate people who belong to a particular race, religion, or ethnic group. Those crimes are not committed incidental to some other activity. They are deliberate. Targeted. The victim was not in the wrong place, but was sought out by the perpetrator because doing so would send some kind twisted message to others who share similar traits with the victim.

    Hate crimes are a form of terrorism. If an American is attacked because they are an American, we rise up in indignation.

    Shouldn't that be the case when a Muslim, Mormon, Mexican or other is targeted because of who or what they are?

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 6:22 p.m.

    “An assault or robbery should be punished exactly the same regardless.” I really doubt you believe that. Let’s say this incident ended differently—that one of the Lopez brothers had grabbed something and defended his father, and Covington had been injured similarly. Would you still be advocating for equal charges? If not, then you definitely (as does our legal system) believe that things like motivation and intent matter in our laws. Self-defense and defense of others don’t usually merit charges. And terroristic attacks should carry enhanced penalties.

  • Mark from Montana Davis County, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:43 p.m.

    @H Bob

    Intent is not the same as motivation. Hate crimes are based on motivation and I don't think we should be adding penalties based on motivation.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:18 p.m.

    "All animals are equal but some are more equal."- George Orwell.

    An assault or robbery should be punished exactly the same regardless of if it is motivated by simple equal opportunity hatred or greed, or targeted specifically because of racial, gender, sexual orientation, economic success, political beliefs or religious beliefs, or the criminal simply wanted to take advantage of the next person walking down the street.

    If the punishment for an ethnicity motivated attack with a metal bar on a Mexican business man and his workers is not harsh enough, then let's increase the penalties for everyone who commits such a dastardly deed.

    Noting that the alleged attacker is "homeless" with drug problems does not mitigate his actions at all. Many of the "homeless" need to be locked up, either in jail for the crimes they have committed or in mental institutions to protect themselves and law abiding citizens they prey on.

  • deseret pete robertson, Wy
    Dec. 4, 2018 5:10 p.m.

    Attempted murder would seem appropriate and i'm sure they could find a few more that would fit very well for this individual

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 4:15 p.m.

    Why do we have drug free zones that enhance penalties in Utah, where it is nearly impossible to not be a quarter mile from a park, school, church, etc.

    Why do we have forfeiture laws which are another enhanced penalty?

    Really same crime, why enhanced charges for those?

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 4:11 p.m.

    rustopher nails it.

    This isn't just about the crime against a random person, it's a terrorist act against a group of people. It' puts fear into those of the same group, which makes it bigger then one assault.

    Example: If Mormon missionaries were being targeted for assault by some person or group randomly, do you think this would effect those not actually being assaulted? Do you think it would put fear in their hearts every time they went out in the public? Do you think their parents would be unaffected by this kind of hate/terrorist crime?

    The reason for hate crimes is that they aren't just another random crime, it's sad that conservatives seem to think this is equal justice.

  • H. Bob Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 4:06 p.m.

    A lot of legal pontificating here by people who don't seem to know that our legal system is absolutely based on intent and in proportional responses to crimes. "Assault is assault; murder is murder"? Not really--we routinely charge accidental deaths as manslaughter and intentional deaths as murder; we even assign increasingly harsh penalties on various "degrees" of murder--because we understand that killing someone in a fit of anger is different than meticulously planning someone's death. We even give criminals enhanced penalties if they harm or kill a police officer; a dog who's been trained to help the police is considered the same as his handler in such cases.
    So why not enhanced penalties for people who attack random people to send a message to others in their ethnic, or gender, or sexual orientation groups? Commenters here would have you believe that "crime is crime," or "criminals are gonna break the law anyway." But our laws should be an expression of what we value--do we really value justice for those in the minority, or do we just say that to make ourselves feel better?

  • observator east of the snake river, ID
    Dec. 4, 2018 3:47 p.m.

    "On Friday, Alan Dale Covington...was charged...with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, aggravated assault and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, third-degree felonies, plus misdemeanor drug charges."

    It appears that there were ample laws under which the D.A. could charge the assailant.

    The trouble with "hate crime" laws is that they attempt to police thought by adding penalties to a crime based on what the accused allegedly thinks. There are some things that people think that are absolutely atrocious. A desire to kill all Mexicans is a terrible thought. A desire to terrorize any person is a terrible desire.

    However, in the United States, freedom of conscience includes the freedom to think or desire terrible things. This does not extend to doing, or acting on, terrible things--"your right to swing your fist ends at my nose"--but, we begin to move in a very Orwellian direction when we, as a society, begin to decide who is not thinking correctly and punish them for those thoughts.

    Action-based punishment is more clearly defined. I hope the accused is imprisoned a very long time for what he *did*.

  • rustopher West Valley City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 3:41 p.m.

    If I am hurting, destroying the property of, or otherwise harassing someone based on their (fill in the blank for socially disadvantaged) then I strike fear in all of the others who belong to this (fill in the blank for socially disadvantaged) group. In other words, I'm a terrorist, which is apparently the worst form of criminal and should be punished as such.

    Although I get the concept, saying one brand of emotion for committing a crime seems to rip the blindfold off lady justice.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 3:25 p.m.

    "D.A. says he has no workable hate crimes laws in his arsenal"

    Nor should he.

    Trying to adjudicate the level or reason for the "hate" involved in a crime is ridiculous and should **never** have been part of the "arsenal" of law enforcement.

    If a human being assaults or kills another human being, ANY other human being, for no justifiable reason (self defense, etc.), then they should receive the appropriate penalty irrespective of any other class-oriented factors dreamed up by the people who advocate for the concept of "hate" crimes.

    It is only in their incredibly hypocritical and bigoted mindset of racism, sexism and who-knows-what-other-kinds-of-isms, which views people only as some iconic representation of one or more groups rather than simply another individual human being, that such "crimes" make any sense whatsoever.

    That kind of bigotry should **never** be part of what is explicitly meant to be a completely unbiased judicial process!

  • USAlover Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 2:56 p.m.

    At their core, what violent crimes aren't instigated by "hate"?

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 2:18 p.m.

    A crime is a crime. It should be punished appropriately. There is no reason at all for a separate "hate crime".
    Similarly, and related: there is no such thing as "Social Justice" as separate from "Justice".
    We all want "justice" and to punish and prevent "crime".
    There is no meaningful distinction by seeking "Social Justice" for a "hate crime".

  • ji_ Ketchikan, AK
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:55 p.m.


    Equal opportunity and equal punishment.

    The DA doesn't need hate crimes legislation. Charge the man for stabbing two people -- charge him for what he DID, not for what he THOUGHT.

    Stabbing a man of Mexican origin gets a stiffer penalty than stabbing a man of German origin? No.

  • Rightasrain Heber City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:54 p.m.

    So I don't believe that one crime should be placed above another due to the reasons why the crime was committed. This guy could have gone in this business and done the same thing because he hated people who wear blue shirts. Hate crime legislation is simply nuts. Assault is assault, theft is theft, murder is murder etc. However, once this guy is convicted maybe his punishment should include being in lockdown near a whole bunch of people from Mexico or Americans who identify as Mexicans. The punishment would then fit the crime.

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:52 p.m.

    Why the necessity for "hate crimes"? Shouldn't assaulting random people be enough to convince a jury and judge to put this guy away for a long time?

    Is DA Gill saying: "If he had attacked just white males I would be fine going after him with the laws I have?"

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:43 p.m.

    I have a crazy idea! Let's just give proper sentences for all crimes! Assault is assault. Generally the person being assaulted is hated by the person assaulting. But who cares?

    If someone beats my head in because of my race or religion it’s the same if they did it because I'm ugly. My head doesn't know the difference. We don't have to try to look into people's hearts when they are violent towards us.

    Let's just prosecute their actions and give them a an appropriate full term sentence.

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:43 p.m.

    Hate crimes only exist against religion and middle age white conservatives.

    "We fought a civil war to make sure that we put an end to the stain of racism and slavery in our nation. We're not racist." -Judge Jeanine

    So there you have it from a conservative authority, racism ended with the civil war?

    Head in the sand representatives.

  • The Trooper South Jordan, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:41 p.m.

    I could see Utah needing this proposed hate crime law if assault, murder, theft, etc. was legal in Utah...but it isn't. This guy is going to jail, regardless of why he did what he did. Hate crime laws are redundant and only serve to whip up more hate and provide a lime light for D.A.s with political ambitions.

  • Vanceone Provo, UT
    Dec. 4, 2018 1:29 p.m.

    Oh please. And where is Mr. Gill's desire for "hate crimes" when its a minority preying on a white person, or an illegal attacking a US citizen; or, and this is the biggie, when some Democrat type commits political violence due to hating Republicans?

    "Hate Crimes" laws are meant and used only to further punish people who aren't leftists. Leftists who commit hate crimes are immune, because no prosecutor would ever, ever charge them. You can bet your bottom dollar that if some LGBT type burned down an LDS chapel while screaming something about killing Mormons, Sam Gill would be far more likely to let that person go than even dream of using "hate crimes" laws.

    So don't give the left another tool to punish us all with.