Under California law, hate crimes impose additional penalties for crimes committed against a person or place because of a disability, gender, nationality, race or religion, or sexual orientation. Pursuant to Penal Code section 422.6, it is a crime to harm anyone or destroy or damage their property due to one of the categories listed. Penal Code section 422.7 and Penal Code section 422.75 provide that if you commit a crime against an individual and are motivated by the fact that the victim fits into one of these categories, your crime will be categorized as a ‘hate crime’ and could receive an enhancement and increased penalties.
An example of a hate crime is a mob of people assaulting a person who wears certain religious garb. In addition to the crime of assault and battery, the group of people could be charged with additional penalties if the assault was motivated by the person’s religion. However, this crime is often charged when the crime is not motivated at all by the individual’s religion. Evidence may come to light that the victim of the assault had actually vandalized several houses belonging to the perpetrators of the assault and that the assault had nothing to do with the victim’s religion.
Under California hate crime law, the crime must have been committed either wholly or in part because of the victim’s protected characteristic. Therefore, prosecutors must prove that the crime was committed due to a perceived bias based one of the categories previously mentioned. However, the bias need not be the only motivation to commit the crime.
Hate crimes pursuant to Penal Code section 422.6 are misdemeanor offenses carrying with them up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to 400 hours of community service. In contrast to Penal Code section 422.6, Penal Code section 422.7 is not a stand-alone crime, but rather, imposes additional penalties. Under certain circumstances, a misdemeanor crime may become a wobbler offense if it is characterized as a hate crime, meaning it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. As a felony, it carries with it up to three years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. Penal Code section 422.75 imposes additional penalties for felonies that are also categorized as hate crimes. If you are convicted under this code section, you may receive an additional sentence of one, two or three years in state prison.
If you are charged with a hate crime, it is imperative that a skilled Murrieta criminal attorney evaluate your case to see whether or not the requirements of a hate crime have been met. Too often, prosecutors charge this crime solely because the victim is a member of a protected class, such as a minority group, even when the crime was not committed because of that characteristic. At the Law Offices of Parwana Anwar, PLC, our experienced attorneys have defended hate crime charges by proving that the crime was motivated neither in whole or in part by any protected category, but rather, was a result of a completely independent motivation or cause. Call our offices today for your free consultation.