Regular readers of the blog are very familiar with the case of George Zimmerman. Many people have speculated over whether or not Zimmerman would face federal charges for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. According to Justice Department officials, it would be difficult to prove that Zimmerman actually acted out because of racial bias. That makes it unlikely that he will face federal charges.
Congress adopted a stronger federal definition of what constitutes a hate crime four years ago. As a result numerous cases have been brought up on federal charges because of a perceived bias against individuals of racial and religious minorities. If similar charges were to be brought up against Zimmerman, federal prosecutors would need clear evidence that he attacked Martin because of the color of skin.
While this is certainly how many people have viewed the case, this is rather difficult to prove in court. Legal experts feel that prosecutors have been able to show clear racial bias in Zimmerman's actions. An anonymous federal civil rights prosecutor suggested that there were lack of witnesses who would be able to support such allegations. Without those witnesses it is seriously unlikely that such allegations would ever really stick.
Federal prosecution teams are often unwilling to bring up charges that would be easily refuted. It tends to not be their style. Most hate crimes tried under the new legal framework provided by congress have included witness testimony that firmly expressed some sort of hateful motivation.
Nevertheless, some voices have continued to press for allegations against Zimmerman. They claim that he deserves a hate crime charge because his actions seem consistent with a criminal who would behave in a racially charged pattern. Federal prosecutors are unsure if these motives could be proven in court.
Prosecution attorneys have to make a very clear case that proves without a shadow of a doubt that such motivations existed. That can be rather difficult without further evidence. Prosecutors would need to have some piece of evidence that conclusively connects the shooting of Trayvon Martin with racial hatred in order for federal charges of a hate crime to actually work.
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