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What are the penalties for hate crime?

Committing a hate crime and disseminating hate speech can lead to criminal liability. A person can be convicted of such an offence and “have a criminal record” for some time.

Hate crimes are very diverse, and legal liability varies depending on the nature of the crime.

If a person obscenely disrupts the rites of a state-recognized religious community or society, he or she commits a criminal offence. This will not result in a criminal record, but can result in a fine, community service, imprisonment or arrest.

A person can also be held criminally liable for forming groups and organizations that seek to discriminate or incite against a group of persons on the basis of their identity (nationality, sexual orientation, etc.). Also for participating in the activities of such groups, and for supporting them materially. Possible penalties include a fine, restriction of freedom, arrest, imprisonment for up to one year.

Discrimination on grounds of age, sex, sexual orientation, disability, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, religion, beliefs or opinions can be punished by public works, a fine, restriction of freedom, arrest or imprisonment for up to three years.

Hatred as a motive is considered an aggravating circumstance. Therefore, crimes committed with the intent to express hatred against a group or a person belonging to a group on the grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation or other personal identity characteristics provided for in the Criminal Code are punishable by a more severe penalty. For example, murder is punishable by seven to 15 years’ imprisonment. If the motive for the murder is hatred of the person’s identity, the offender shall be sentenced to eight to twenty years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment. If the hateful act causes serious damage to the person’s health, the offender shall be sentenced to 2 to 12 years’ imprisonment or up to five years’ imprisonment for minor damage to health.

Persons who, with a view to distribution, produce, acquire, send, transport or possess with the intent to distribute items which, on the basis of a person’s identity, ridicule, stigmatize, incite hatred, incite discrimination or incite violence shall be liable to a restriction of freedom, arrest or imprisonment for up to one year. Public ridicule, contempt, incitement to discrimination and hatred may be punished by a fine, restriction of liberty, arrest or imprisonment for up to two years. If they publicly incited violence, physical violence, or materially supported such activities, they can be fined, imprisoned, arrested or sentenced to up to three years in prison.

Information prepared in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania.