A man charged with a Texas mosque hate crime faces as long as 40 years in jail over allegations he burned down the worship center.
The defendant Marq Vincent Perez was indicted earlier this year on hate crime charges and two additional crimes for destroying an Islamic mosque in Victoria, Texas.
A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Perez for allegedly burning the Victoria Islamic Center on Jan. 28. Perez faces a charge for a hate crime, “damage to a religious property as well as use of a fire to commit a federal felony in relation to the arson at the mosque,” according to authorities
The mosque in Victoria was set on fire in January. Investigators quickly established the fire was due to arson.
Perez faces up to four decades in prison and up to $750,000 in fines. He was charged with damaging religious property, use of fire to commit a federal felony and possession of an unregistered destructive device, the Victoria Advocate reported.
Perez was incarcerated in a county jail since March 3, when he was arrested by officers investigating the burning of the Islamic center on Jan. 28.
The same mosque was the subject of an alleged hate attack in 2013 when authorities said they found clear evidence linking the attack on the Victoria mosque to discrimination.
The Victoria Advocate reported a man admitted painting “H8,” on the outside of the building at the time of a previous arson attack.
The symbol is a computer shorthand for “hate.” The Texas office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has been looking closely at investigations into both fires.
Many communities have reported an increase in hate crimes against people of certain religions and ethnicities in recent months.
The hate crime indictment followed an incident on Father’s Day when churches in New York were daubed with satanic graffiti.
The vandals spray painted pentagrams and the message “hail Satan” on the outside of the four churches on June 17.
It’s not necessary to severely damage a church, mosque or a synagogue to be charged with a hate crime.
In California, a woman faces hate crimes charges and up to six months in jail for leaving bacon outside a mosque and breaking windows, reported the New York Post.
However, in Virginia, the murder of a Muslim girl close to a mosque was not treated as a hate crime because the motive was said to be road rage.
Hate crimes can be brought on a federal level or under a specific statute in Texas. Nevertheless, very few offenses hate crime convictions are secured in Texas.
If you have been charged with an offense of this nature, please contact our Tarrant County criminal defense lawyer today.