Hate crimes are against the law. It is the policy of the Amherst Police Department to safeguard the State and Federal rights of all individuals irrespective of their race, religion, ethnicity, handicap, sexual orientation, and gender and to treat seriously any acts or threats of violence, property damage, harassment, intimidation, or other crimes that infringe upon these rights. Hate crimes are viewed seriously by the Amherst Police Department and will be given high priority. The Department will use every necessary resource rapidly and decisively to ensure your safety, identify the perpetrators, arrest them and take vigorous enforcement action.
Massachusetts Hate Crime Law MGL Chapter 265 Section 39 states:
"(a) Whoever commits an assault or a battery upon a person or damages the real or personal property of a person with the intent to intimidate such person because of such person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability shall be punished by a fine of not more than 5 thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 and 1-half years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The court may also order restitution to the victim in any amount up to 3 times the value of property damage sustained by the owners of such property. For the purposes of this section, the term “disability” shall have the same meaning as “handicap” as defined in subsection 17 of section 1 of chapter 1 hundred and fifty-1 B; provided, however, that for purposes of this section, the term “disability” shall not include any condition primarily resulting from the use of alcohol or a controlled substance as defined in section 1 of chapter ninety-4 C.
(b) Whoever commits a battery in violation of this section and which results in bodily injury shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Whoever commits any offense described in this subsection while armed with a firearm, rifle, shotgun, machine gun or assault weapon shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than ten years or in the house of correction for not more than 2 and 1-half years. For purposes of this section, “bodily injury” shall mean substantial impairment of the physical condition, including, but not limited to, any burn, fracture of any bone, subdural hematoma, injury to any internal organ, or any injury which occurs as the result of repeated harm to any bodily function or organ, including human skin.
There shall be a surcharge of 1 hundred dollars on a fine assessed against a defendant convicted of a violation of this section; provided, however, that moneys from such surcharge shall be delivered forthwith to the treasurer of the commonwealth and deposited in the Diversity Awareness Education Trust Fund established under the provisions of section thirty-9 Q of chapter ten. In the case of convictions for multiple offenses, said surcharge shall be assessed for each such conviction.
A person convicted under the provisions of this section shall complete a diversity awareness program designed by the secretary of the executive office of public safety in consultation with the Massachusetts commission against discrimination and approved by the chief justice for administration and management of the trial court. A person so convicted shall complete such program prior to release from incarceration or prior to completion of the terms of probation, whichever is applicable."