CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - State lawmakers are renewing their push for a hate crime bill in South Carolina.
Charleston County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a possible hate crime on Folly Beach where one man was killed and another seriously injured by a suspected hit and run driver.
Charleston County Representative Wendell Gilliard is one of the sponsors of the hate crime bill.
"This is reality. We really have to understand prejudice, racism is definitely on the rise and if we turn our backs away from that, then it grows like a cancer," Gilliard said.
Attorney John Harrell says there is a federal hate crime law on the books and it would be good to have one on the state level, too.
Harrell says a conviction could result in more prison time. However, he says prosecutors would have to prove a motive.
"Hate crimes have one extra hoop for prosecutors to jump and that is motive. Typically motive is not required in a crime trial, but for a hate crime, motive is required," Harrell said. "And that motive to commit the crime was based on race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation."
Gilliard says lawmakers will try to put the hate crime bill on the front burner in the next legislative session.
"We have to have things in place to counter, attack these situations because they're popping up everywhere in our society."
Under the proposed hate crime bill, a conviction would result in a prison sentence of two to fifteen years and a fine of $2,000 to $10,000.