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Accused of a Hate Crime in Los Angeles?

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on January 3, 2022

A “hate crime” is not a crime in itself, but penalty enhancements for a bias-driven criminal offense. A hate crime is defined as:

“hate crime is a crime against a person, group, or property motivated by the victim’s real or perceived protected social group. You may be the victim of a hate crime if you have been targeted because of your actual or perceived: (1) disability, (2) gender, (3) nationality, (4) race or ethnicity, (5) religion, (6) sexual orientation, and (7) association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Hate crimes are serious crimes that may result in imprisonment or jail time.”

A hate crime will involve violence, the threat of violence. A recent report in the OC Register noted that hate crimes increased by 71 percent in 2021, the highest increase in decades. One contributing factor in this staggering spike in hate crimes is it is now easier to report these crimes. A person could face serious penalties when accused of committing a hate crime and a strong defense is essential.

Hate Crime Accusations in Los Angeles?

For a prosecutor to achieve a conviction, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an accused individual committed a criminal act due to the alleged victim’s race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or disability. Proving intent is the pivotal point in these cases, as it must be proven that the criminal act was motivated by bias. In the USA, you have rights, including the right to free speech. Name calling, online comments, flags, or literature may be unfair or unpleasant but when no violence or threat of violence is involved, it is not a hate crime, but termed a “hate incident.”

Types of Hate Crimes in Los Angeles

A hate crime is an offense committed by a person accused of being driven by bias. Some of the most common types of offenses that could have the added enhancement of “hate crime,” include:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Assault
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Stalking
  • Attempted murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Burglary
  • Mayhem

Penalties: Hate Crime Punishments in California

A hate crime is any criminal act believed to have been committed due to a bias. The California hate crime law outlines the penalties imposed for hate crimes. These penalty enhancements can be imposed in either misdemeanor or felony convictions. The hate crime penalties are:

·         Misdemeanor Hate Crime Penalties

A person convicted of a misdemeanor that caused physical injury or property damage above $950 in value can lead to up to one year in county jail.

·         Felony Hate Crime Penalties

A person convicted of a felony the prosecutor considers meets the legal criteria of a hate crime can lead to an additional sentence of 3 years in state prison.

Defending Hate Crime Charges

As a defendant, you have rights – and when accused of a hate crime offense, these rights must be zealously defended. Some of the options to argue against hate crime accusations include:

  • You did not commit the crime.
  • The act was not motivated by bias.
  • You have a right to free speech under the Constitution.

These arguments can be presented along with defense for the crime itself – and that takes trial skills, case preparation, and working closely with the accused to craft a defense case that is geared to limit the damage, whether removing the “hate crime” facet of the case, challenging the evidence to increase reasonable doubt, negotiating a plea deal, or seeking a full acquittal in criminal court.

Accused of a hate crime? Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP at (213) 688-0460 immediately.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense