Los Angeles Hate Crime Defense Lawyers
Being charged with a hate crime in California can lead to significant jail time, harsh fines, and a serious blow to your reputation. In California, prosecutors can pursue enhanced charges if a defendant is accused of committing a crime with an act of bias. When you are facing a charge as serious as a hate crime, you need the best defense possible.
At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we do not simply offer the aid of a single attorney, but the skills, knowledge, and experience of a full legal defense team. If you bring your case to us, we will dig into the details of your charges and advocate for your best interests. Working with a dedicated criminal defense team is key to beating hate crime charges and protecting your future. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to receive a free consultation with a Los Angeles hate crimes defense attorney.
A hate crime is a criminal offense, such as murder, vandalism, or arson, with an added element of bias, as stated by the FBI. The bureau’s formal definition of a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” In a recent year, a total of 8,496 hate crime offenses were charged in the U.S.
California’s definition of a hate crime is similar to the federal definition. Under 422.55 PC, “Hate crime” means a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:
- Race or ethnicity
- Sexual orientation
- Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
You cannot be convicted of a hate crime if there is no underlying criminal offense. For example, if a person shows hatred toward a particular race, there can only be a hate crime if that person commits a criminal offense against someone of that race because of their race.
California also has a hate crime statute. Under 422.6 PC, it is a standalone crime to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten, by force or threat of force, another person’s free exercise or enjoyment of their civil rights, or knowingly deface, damage, or destroy their property, because of that person’s actual or perceived protected characteristic(s).
The penalties for a hate crime will depend on the facts of the specific case. If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense and the prosecution can prove that the offense was committed as a hate crime, enhanced penalties will apply. This means longer jail time, larger fines, and possible incarceration in a California state prison.
For the standalone crime of 422.6 PC, “Any person convicted… shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), or by both the above imprisonment and fine, and the court shall order the defendant to perform a minimum of community service, not to exceed 400 hours, to be performed over a period not to exceed 350 days, during a time other than his or her hours of employment or school attendance.”
If you have been charged with a hate crime, your attorney will challenge the prosecution’s assumptions. For example, your criminal defense lawyer may work to show that:
- You were engaged in protected free speech: Speaking alone is not a crime. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our right to free speech. Speech can only amount to a hate crime if it contains a threat of violence that you are able to carry out.
- You were not motivated by bias toward the victim: If you were involved in a criminal situation with a victim of another race, religion, sexual orientation, or other protected characteristic, that does not necessarily make it a hate crime if your actions were not motivated by bias.
- You did not commit an underlying criminal offense: To show ill will or hatred toward a person of a protected characteristic is not enough to qualify as a hate crime. There must also be an underlying misdemeanor or felony offense against that person.
Hate crimes are serious offenses that carry heavy criminal penalties in California. Your best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome is to have an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney by your side. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have a track record of resolving issues quickly and quietly to the benefit of our clients. Most of the cases we handle are by referral. If you have been charged with a hate crime, call us at (213) 688-0460 for exceptional criminal defense. We can discuss your options in a free consultation.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.