Even after the trial of the decade, George Zimmerman may not be out of the woods just yet. Although he was found “not guilty” in his recent state trial, he may be charged with a federal hate crime. The fact that Attorney General Eric Holder refuses to give Zimmerman his Kel Tek 9mm handgun points to the possibility that "the criminal section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is seriously investigating whether civil rights charges should be filed."
But, for all of you out there who are hoping for a hate crime charge, don’t hold your breath. Holder has argued that, “for a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law … We have to show that there was specific intent to do the crime with requisite state of mind.”
According to CNN, federal charges against Zimmerman would be hard to prove and time consuming, so there is little chance he’ll come to trial again, despite the protests of civil rights groups like the NAACP. The simple fact that he was acquitted at the state level of murder and manslaughter charges showed that a Florida jury rejected the idea that Zimmerman intended to kill Martin for any reason, let alone the racial motivation necessary for genuine hate crime.
As for the symbol of the trial, Zimmerman's gun, according to the Washington Times, “the federal government has the power to infringe on Second Amendment rights only when a person falls into the categories of prohibited people, which includes felons, dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers. There is no reasonable cause for the Justice Department to hold the evidence, since it has already been examined, given a DNA test and used in trial.”
For now, Attorney General Holder has stated that he is "concerned about the case," and that the Department of Justice has not said if or when it will "take custody" of the evidence being held. Ultimately, Zimmerman is legally entitled to get his piece returned and to once again walk free if more charges aren’t filed.
Until then, the Sanford police have confirmed that the DOJ has placed a "hold" on evidence relating to the Zimmerman trial, including the gun that has become a symbol of perverse legal defense protection for tens of thousands across the nation.