HIB – Racism

The state of New Jersey is keenly aware of the issues arising from incidents like harassment, intimidation, and bullying – or HIB, as it is referred to locally. As such, the state legislators have created regulatory measures that are supposed to help prevent incidents of HIB, encourage reporting, and ensure victim remediation. The state also requires that schools create specific policies and procedures to ensure they create an academic environment free from HIB.  

If your child is accused of a HIB offense, they can be disciplined by their school and still face criminal punishment from the state. Thus, when you are notified of such accusations, you must reach out to a qualified criminal law attorney immediately. The Lento Law Firm Criminal Defense and Student Discipline Defense Team understands how taxing these proceedings can be, especially if your child is defending themselves from school disciplinary actions and criminal charges.  

Lento Law Firm will build a robust defense to ensure students are not unnecessarily punished for actions outside the domain of the school and the state. Call 888-535-3686 or schedule a consultation online.  

How New Jersey Law Defines Racism 

According to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, racism is categorized under HIB, which is defined as:  

  • Gestures, actions, or communications made in writing, verbally, physically, or electronically that are motivated by the victim's actual or supposed characteristics;  
  • Which happens at school, on school property, on the school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity; and  
  • Is committed with the understanding that it will emotionally or physically harm the victim, injure their property, or put them in fear that they will be harmed or have their property damaged; or 
  • Behaving in a way that insults or demeans another person in a way that significantly disrupts the school's ability to operate in an orderly fashion.  

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights goes on to define characteristics that fall under their protection, including race, color, religion, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation. As such, if a student is accused of racism, they can only be punished if the other side can prove that either the incident included actions, gestures, or communications from the defendant about the alleged victim's race or if they have behaved in a way that insults or demeans the alleged victim, is based on the victim's actual or perceived race, and causes the school to be unable to operate properly.  

If neither of these issues can be proven, the case should be dismissed in both court and the school environment. However, because racism is an offshoot of HIB, criminal charges can be made against students if the victim can show that they were subject to instances of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that were based on their race.  

Lento Law Firm will review the alleged behavior and facts and determine how to proceed with your child's defense.  

The Importance of “Intent” in Any Racism Case  

The key component of all HIB-related crimes is “intent.” Without intent, these crimes cannot be proven properly. In the case of racism, a student must commit an act that is motivated by the alleged victim's race or perceived race and do it knowing it could cause the victim emotional or physical harm, damage their property, or put them in fear of being hurt or having their property damaged. 

Thus, the first line of defense for a criminal attorney is proving that there was no intention. So, for example, if a student is accused of repeatedly calling a teacher a racial slur, such that it disrupted the classroom environment, but the student did not know that what they were saying was a racial slur or that they were hurting the teacher in any way, the prosecution or the school disciplinary committee should drop the case against the student because there was a lack of intent.  

Potential Defenses Against Racism Charges 

The Lento Law Firm understands the intricacies of all HIB charges, including racism, whether in school or in a criminal court. Their experience is priceless when it comes to defending students in either or both settings.  

As we explained above, the number one defense your criminal defense attorney will launch is a lack of intent. However, there are other defenses they may rely on, including: 

  • Proving the gestures, actions, or behaviors were not motivated by the alleged victim's race.  
  • Showing that the defendant did not believe their gestures, actions, or behaviors would put the alleged victim in harm's way, destroy their property, or put them in fear of being hurt or having their property destroyed. 
  • Showing that the defendant's actions did not result in the school's inability to operate properly. 

There is no reason a student should be convicted of racism if the results were not likely to occur, the student did not have the intention of hurting the other student, and the school was able to continue to run properly. However, the only way to ensure children are not being unnecessarily punished by either institution is to hire Lento Law Firm. 

Possible Punishments for Racism 

Children who are accused of racism are really being accused of harassment, intimidation, and bullying with undertones of racism. Because of this, their punishments will be similar to those for umbrella crimes. However, the undertones of racism may force a court or school to deepen the severity of the child's punishments. If this happens, it is decided on a case-by-case basis.  

So, for instance, if a child is accused of hazing based on the victim's race, they can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Or if they are accused of cyberbullying someone based on their race, it could be up to eighteen months in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.  

In addition, your child can be disciplined for racism at school, including being suspended or expelled from school. Suspension or expulsions have disastrous consequences for students. Not only are they noted on a student's final transcript, but they will be discussed on every admissions application from that moment forward. If the school your child is hoping to apply to has a zero-tolerance bullying policy, as many do, these punishments can prevent them from being admitted when they otherwise would have been.  

For children in elementary, middle, or high school, disciplinary actions that remove them from their classroom can stop them from improving academically. Instead of being able to work on problems with their classmates and teachers, they will be relegated to alternative education placements. Typically, students who enter alternative education placements for behavioral misconduct end up having more intense behavioral issues, which prevents them from learning in the classroom. When they continuously fall farther behind their classmates, they can develop mental and emotional health problems.  

The Lento Law Firm Criminal and Student Discipline Defense Team is keenly aware of the issues your child will undergo if they are forced to defend themselves in front of the court and the school administration.  

Other Criminal that May Be Related to Racism 

If your child is charged with a hazing crime in New Jersey, they could also be charged with one of the following crimes: 

How Lento Law Firm Can Help  

When your child is facing allegations of racism, it can be completely overwhelming. You might be feeling frustrated, exhausted, and out of your depth. Yet you must contact an experienced criminal law attorney as soon as possible to avoid the potential disciplinary and criminal charges your child might be facing.  

Racism is a big word that can initiate a slew of negative consequences for your child if they are found responsible at school or in the courtroom. Not only that, but such accusations can derail their chance of attending college, getting the job they have always dreamed of, or participating in after-school activities that would have helped them with those goals. Moreover, if they are found guilty in criminal court, they can face prison sentences and financial penalties that adversely affect their education.  

The Lento Law Firm Team has spent years helping students across the state navigate harassment, intimidation, and bullying accusations, including claims of discrimination on the basis of race. They will leverage this experience to ensure your child gets the best possible outcome for their case.  

In addition to just being in your corner during these proceedings, the attorneys at Lento Law Firm will: 

  • Draft a strategic defense. 
  • Gather relevant evidence and witness testimony that supports their defense and actively refutes the other side's claims.   
  • Fill out all of the required legal paperwork for you and file the claim on your child's behalf, alleviating that particular stress from your shoulders.  
  • Meet with law enforcement, judges, and the prosecution to negotiate before the hearing to get the charges dropped or diminished in some way.  

Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online. Lento Law Firm is here to help. 

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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