Generally, victims of hate crimes do not need to prepare a criminal defense. However, after a police investigation into a reported hate crime that resulted in a homicide, one New Jersey man must now focus on his own criminal defense. Local police allege that the hate crime may have actually been part of a murder plot developed between the man and another woman.

The incident took place when a woman was shot and killed while walking with her husband and 3-year-old son in a northern New Jersey community. The man said that before the attackers killed his wife, they had called the Pakistani-American family “terrorists.” Therefore, this attack was initially framed as a hate crime.

However, a preliminary investigation led police to believe that this may not have been a random attack, but instead had been planned by the husband and another woman. After looking at certain text messages between the two, police claim that the pair planned the crime themselves.

Understandably, this is a very serious accusation, and the indictment will need to be backed up with solid evidence. According to the report, it is not clear as to how police ascertained that this was allegedly a premeditated attack. If the messages in question are simply messages to the other woman about how he was dissatisfied with his marriage and wished for a new wife, for instance, the police claim would be insubstantial unless there is more than circumstantial evidence. In the end, of course, what matters is the evidence which is presented in the courtroom as opposed to speculation made by local media outlets.

As the two accused individuals develop their criminal defense in this particular case, they will need to carefully review each and every piece of evidence against them individually in order to prepare a strong defense. As each person works with legal representatives up until the trial, the important thing to remember is that public opinion of their innocence or guilt, criminal courts operate on the principle of innocent until proven guilty The burden of proof is on the prosecution to establish the veracity of every element of the case put before the court.

Source: The Boston Globe, “NJ indictment claims man plotted wife’s ’11 murder,” June 14, 2012