Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
Matthew Shepard And James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
More commonly referred to as the Hate Crimes Act or the Matthew Shepard Act, this federal law gives the U.S. Department of Justice the power to investigate and prosecute defendants who selected their crime victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The law, passed in October 2009, is named for hate crime victims Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.