In California, if you commit a crime and a substantial factor in your motive for the criminal act was targeting a person or group of people because of their race, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, skin color, disability, or national origin, it is considered a hate crime.
In order to convict you of a hate crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a substantial factor in committing the crime was an intention to interfere with an individual’s or a group’s civil rights.
Hate crimes are prosecuted aggressively in California. In addition to a criminal conviction, you could be sued in civil court. If you are sued in civil court for a crime that you were convicted of, your conviction establishes liability and the only remaining issue will be how much damage the victim suffered.
Here are some of the California laws regarding hate crimes:
Felony Hate Crimes
PC 190.2(a)(16) If you kill somebody and it is proven that your motive was that person’s race, color, religion, nationality or country of origin, it will be considered a special circumstance and the punishment could be the death penalty or life without parole.
PC 190.3 If you kill somebody and it is proven that your motive was the person’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability, you could be sentenced to life without parole.
PC 422.75(a) If you committed a felony and it is proven that your motive was to commit a hate crime, you could receive an additional term of 1, 2, or 3 years in prison.
PC 422.75(b) If you committed a felony hate crime with another person or people (as part of a team or group), the enhanced punishment is 2, 3, or 4 years in prison.
PC 422.75(c) If you used a firearm to commit a felony hate crime under (a) or (b) above, the firearm is an aggravating factor which will be considered at sentencing.
PC 422.75(d) You could be sentenced to an additional year in prison for each prior conviction of a felony hate crime.
Other felony hate crimes include:
Vandalizing a place of worship (PC 594.3)
- Threats interfering with practicing religion (PC 11412)
- Using an explosive, other destructive device, or arson in certain places (PC 11413)1
Misdemeanor Hate Crimes
PC 302(a) If you disrupt a religious gathering in a church by making noise, or by exhibiting rude or indecent behavior either in the meeting place or close enough to disturb the gathering, you could be fined up to $1,000, and sentenced to up to one year in county jail.
If you have a prior conviction for disrupting a religious gathering or for willfully disturbing or breaking up a lawful public meeting (PC 403), you could be sentenced to serve 120-160 hours of community service in addition to the fine and jail time.
PC 422.6 states that if you use force or threats to hurt or intimidate somebody or if you damage somebody’s property and you are charged with a hate crime, your punishment could be enhanced by up to a year in jail, up to a $5,000 fine, or both the fine and jail time.
You could also be ordered to perform community service for up to 400 hours and the community service has to be completed within 350 days.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today if You are Charged with a Hate Crime
If you or somebody you love has been charged with a hate crime, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully defending people accused of hate crimes for over 35 years. We will meet with you and plan a defense strategy that will get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.