Holden Matthews faces arson charges in the fires, but he could face other charges as well.
The question is will “hate crime” be one of them?
“The FBI generally defines a hate crime as a criminal offense that’s committed against persons or property motivated by a criminal’s bias based against something,” says former FBI agent Jess Lanza.
For over 20 years he investigated corruption, fraud, organized crime, cyber crime, human trafficking, terrorism…and hate crimes.
He says hate crimes carry tough penalties.
Many hate crimes committed result in felony charges.
Lanza says the punishment for a hate crime is a maximum of 10 years in prison.
But if it involved kidnapping, sexual assault, attempted murder, or resulted in death, the punishment can be any length of time up to life in prison.
Criminal fines may also increase if the charges involve an aspect of a hate crime.
Meanwhile, state laws can vary not only in the length of punishment but also regarding the motive for the crime.