Officials push for “Blue Lives Matter” laws

Officials push for “Blue Lives Matter” laws

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and New Jersey State Senator Joseph Kyrillos (R-Middletown, NJ) both want to classify police slayings as hate crimes.

Sen. Kyrillos’s proposal would elevate simple assault to aggravated assault if defendants target police officers simply because of their occupation. Other laws already offer similar protections “based on race, on religion, on disability, on sexual orientation,” he noted. Currently, Louisiana is the only state with a so-called Blue Lives Matter law, but lawmakers in several other states are debating such measures.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Lynch initially planned to launch a federal hate crimes probe after several officers were slain in Dallas, Texas, but those intentions were shelved after it became apparent that the only suspect in the crimes was deceased. Nevertheless, Ms. Lynch met with officials from the National Fraternal Order of Police, where they reportedly discussed permanently extending the federal hate crimes law to police officers.

Hate crimes in New York

Almost all states have some form of hate crimes law, and the Empire State’s version is found in §485.05 of the New York Penal Law. People commit hate crimes if they:

  • Select the victims “in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the[ir] race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation,” and
  • Commit the act “in whole or in substantial part” for the same or similar reason.

The hate crimes law enhances the penalties for a wide range of offenses, including assault, menacing, murder, kidnapping, and larceny.

The law has come under fire by some because it is very vague. They specifically take issue with the fact that any “belief or perception” may be the basis of a hate crime. In other words, a person does not have to be a hater to be charged with a hate crime in New York, because any stereotype or prejudice will suffice.


According to Subsection (2) of the law, the prosecutor must do more than show a disparity between the defendant and victim. So, the mere fact that the defendant is male and the alleged victim is female is insufficient; arguably, this difference does not even create a presumption.

The motivation must also be at least “substantial,” so even if the defendant does have strong feelings about a protected class, such feelings do not rise to the level of committing a hate crime. Instead, the prosecutor must show, either by direct or circumstantial evidence, that the defendant specifically targeted the alleged victim with a hate crime intent.

In the current environment, many prosecutors add hate crime allegations whenever possible. For a free consultation and an effective defense, contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, LLC. After-hours and jail visits are available. Call 212-951-1232 for more information.