Racial Hate Crimes

The FBI issued a 2013 report (the most current documented hate crime information) which states that racial hate crimes accounted for 48.5% of all hate crimes nationwide. The FBI defines racial and other hate crimes as a crime against a person “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias“[…]

Victims of racial hate crimes

The topic of racial hate crimes brings to mind for many the numerous crimes against African Americans (presumably by whites or Caucasians). This is an understandable forethought considering that according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics, 66.5 percent of racial hate crimes ARE directed toward African Americans. Surprising to some though, the second highest percentage of racial hate crimes are against Whites at 21.2%.

It’s all about the ratio

The Department of Public Safety recorded that in 2013 67% of all hate crimes in Utah were recorded to be at the hands of the white man (or woman). This percentage seems high, and many are likely to make swift judgments based on that number alone. However, it’s important to keep in mind the ratio of race to offender. The United States Census Bureau documented that Utah consists of primarily white/Caucasian residents and not by a small amount either. The white majority of Utah dominates all other races at a whopping 79.7%.

Motivation and bias

With the rising number of hate crimes, those who have committed an offense against a citizen of another race will possibly be questioned as to whether or not race played a part in the crime. In order to be prosecuted for a racial hate crime though, motivation with racial bias has to be proven first. While many use broad statistics such as those stated to jump to conclusions, an educated criminal defense attorney will dig deeper to ensure that the offender does not have an incorrect racial hate charge added to their offenses.

High Rate Loans in Utah

When Utah residents are hard for cash, they will often turn to high rate loans to get them by temporarily. Unfortunately, those offering high rate loans, such as payday loans, are getting a bad rap for allegedly preying on those unable to survive paycheck to paycheck.

Budget and save

There are times when unforeseen circumstances catch people off guard financially. Or there are those disadvantaged individuals who are simply unable to support themselves or their families due to illness, lack of education, and so forth. This is occasionally when customers may seek a check advance or other high rate loan. However, what is observed more often by payday lenders are people spending more than they make. This is a common and growing problem in our material society which is made worse by inflation and a stalled minimum wage. Payday lenders have made a business out of it; however their business would fail if their customers did a better job at managing their money.

Photo by: Frankieleon

Photo by: Frankieleon

Supply and demand

Traveling through an upscale neighborhood, you will notice the lack of payday lenders. As you travel further away from the money, into poverty stricken areas, you’re likely to see a business offering high rate loans on every block. Payday lenders are not targeting the poor. They are simply making their services more easily accessible to those that need them. If their business was located elsewhere, those seeking fast cash would travel to them or possibly explore other options for money that may be dangerous or illegal. Although the business is offered, it is the customer that initiates the loan.

Payday lender aka loan shark?

Many view payday lenders as nothing more than loan sharks in an office setting. Yes, payday lenders deal in small loans with high interest rates, but they aren’t going to break your kneecaps if you fail to pay. When a payday lender gives an advance on a paycheck, they charge the interest that is allowed by law, and they may include finance charges to cover expenses of their business. Those looking for high rate loans are usually in a hurry for money and haven’t fully grasped the financial consequences that accompany the fast money. For this reason, they are generally unable to pay them back on time. If they are able to settle the debt, they’ve often spent such a large amount on fees that they need to take out another payday loan. This becomes a vicious cycle that customers find difficult to break free from and where payday lenders are given a lot of unnecessary flak.

Utah law for high rate loans

Although many states have done away with high rate loans, there are still over 30 states that allow them. Utah is one of those states, and there are laws in place to protect the customer and lender. The Utah Department of Financial Institutions states payday loans are legal in the state of Utah as long as:

• The amount of the loan and interest are clearly displayed on the signed contracts
• The duration of the loan is 10 weeks or less (rollover not allowed) and interest stops at 10 weeks
• Lenders have posted fee amounts & a complaint number visible to customers
• Lenders do not use threats of criminal charges for those customers that write hot checks
• Customer is able to change their mind about the loan without charges if done by 5pm the next day
• Customer is allowed to make small payments without being charged additional finance charges
• Extended payment plans are made available
• 10 days’ notice is given before lender files suit for non-payment.

Those payday lenders that fail to follow the rules in place for high rate loan businesses are subject to criminal usury charges. Criminal usury is a 3rd degree felony. With high rate loan lenders being seen as the scum of the earth as of late, they are being kept under a watchful eye for mistakes by annually having their business procedures examined. If you are a lender that has overlooked the stipulations in place for your business and are facing criminal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney today.

Police Suspend Rape Investigation at University of Virginia

Police suspend rape investigation at University of Virginia

Photo: BlueSalix/Wikimedia Commons

In the explosive wake of a Rolling Stone article in November 2014, police in Charlottesville, Virginia, have announced that they are suspending the rape investigation discussed at length in the Rolling Stone article. The article was about a woman who claimed to have been gang raped at a fraternity party at the University of Virginia; however, investigators have uncovered contradictory information. In addition, Rolling Stone has been criticized for their handling of the rape investigation story.

Rape Investigation, Journalistic Sensationalism, or Both?

According to a Miami Herald Associated Press article, the alleged victim in the rape investigation, known only as “Jackie,” told Rolling Stone magazine that during her first semester at the University of Virginia in 2012, she went on a date with a classmate known only as “Drew” who later lured her into a secluded room at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house where she was raped by seven fraternity brothers.

Between the AP article and a Los Angeles Times report, there is a discrepancy as to when the university first heard of the rape. The AP article says the story first came to light in May of 2013 when Jackie was in a dean’s office on an unrelated academic matter. The Times stated that “Jackie” reported a separate incident of being attacked by four men on campus in April of 2014 to a dean and campus police. During this meeting, she supposedly also told them about the alleged rape in 2012. According to Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo, police found inconsistencies in Jackie’s account of the attack from the four men in 2014 but that she did have an abrasion on her head.

Regardless of when the story was first related to university officials, what seems to be consistent with both dates is that Jackie stated she didn’t want to push for a rape investigation regarding the 2012 fraternity rape incident. Even after the story broke in Rolling Stone in November and University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan asked law enforcement to look into the alleged assault, investigators were forced to proceed without cooperation from Jackie.

While they were working on the rape investigation, several other inconsistencies came forward which led Charlottesville police to announce that they were suspending (but not closing entirely) the investigation on Monday, March 23. Longo stated that campus deans, fraternities, employees, and even friends of Jackie provided documents and statements which didn’t support Jackie’s claims.

In the Rolling Stone article, entitled “A Rape on Campus,” Jackie said she told three friends about the assault and that two of them told her not to report the incident to the police. However, the friends told the Associated Press that the exact opposite was true. They said they had insisted that Jackie contact the police, but she had refused.

In addition, in the course of the rape investigation, it was discovered that contrary to Jackie’s statement, there was no party at the Phi Kappa Psi house the night of the alleged rape. The classmate Jackie referred to as “Drew” was contacted, but it was discovered that he was not only a member of a different fraternity but claimed to not even know Jackie.

“That doesn’t mean that something terrible did not happen to Jackie,” Longo said at a news conference on Monday. “I can’t prove that something didn’t happen.” He went on to say that while the investigation wasn’t officially closed, investigators were “not able to conclude to any substantive degree than an incident consistent with the facts in [the Rolling Stone] article” had occurred.

Damning to Future Rape Investigations?

After the publication of the article in Rolling Stone, several critics stepped forward to voice their concerns over not only questionable reporting but also damages that this story could cause to future rape investigations. One of the biggest issues from a journalistic standpoint was Rolling Stone’s decision to not contact the accused in the case for their side of the story.

Rolling Stone published a letter from Managing Editor Will Dana on Dec. 5 detailing some of the inconsistencies in Jackie’s story but saying that she still stood by it. Dana said that in light of some of this new information, they realized they were in error in not attempting to contact the allegedly guilty parties.

The story also had a negative impact on the University of Virginia, which was accused of having a rampant culture of sexual violence. University President Sullivan banned social activities at fraternities after the article was published. These activities were reinstated after the organizations agreed to much stricter rules and regulations of the social activities. In light of the new information, it has been reported that these new rules and regulations will be re-evaluated.

Many rape survivor advocates say the article and subsequent rape investigation has set the cause back considerably, given the fact that often women who claim rape are already not taken seriously by law enforcement and the general public.

According to a statement from Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity “is now exploring its legal options to address the extensive damage caused by Rolling Stone.”