In California, a criminal act committed against another person that is motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics of that person is considered a hate crime. Under California Penal Code Section 422.55, those characteristics include the alleged victim’s:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Disability, or
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics

If you commit a hate crime, will you be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor? Our criminal defense law firm has been successfully defending clients accused of hate crimes for more than 35 years. Let’s take a look at when a hate crime becomes a felony offense.

Misdemeanor Hate Crimes

There are several “stand alone” hate crimes that are considered misdemeanor offenses. Those crimes include:

  • PC 302(a) – Disrupting a religious meeting
  • PC 403 – Disturbing a lawful public meeting; and
  • PC 422.6 – Willfully interfering with someone’s legal or constitutional rights

These crimes each carry a sentence of six months to 364 days in county jail and expensive fines.

Hate Crime Enhancements for Misdemeanors (PC 422.7)

Certain misdemeanor crimes can be charged as felonies if the motivation for committing the crime was prejudice against certain characteristics of the alleged victim. Under California Penal Code Section 422.7, a misdemeanor can be charged as a felony if your actions were motivated by bias toward the victim and one of the following applies:

  • Your criminal act caused the victim physical injury or took place when you were able to cause violent injury
  • Your criminal act caused more than $950 of property damage, OR
  • You have a previous conviction for a hate crime under PC 422.6

These types of offenses are considered “wobbler” offenses, meaning they could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction carries up to 364 days in county jail. A felony conviction is punishable by up to three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Hate Crime Enhancements for Felonies (PC 422.75)

There is also a sentence enhancement available for felony offenses that are committed with bias as a motivating factor. Under PC 422.75, you face:

  • An additional one, two or three years in prison if your felony was committed as a hate crime
  • An additional two, three or four years in prison if you committed a felony hate crime with another person or group of people, AND
  • An additional one year in prison for each prior felony hate crime conviction on your record

Felony Hate Crimes (PC 190)

If you murder someone and your motivation for doing so was the person’s:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Disability, or
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics

You face a felony sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty under PC 190.2 and 190.3.

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

Being accused of a hate crime is a serious matter that could result in severe penalties and a negative stigma that will follow you for the rest of your life. That is why you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately to discuss your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing serious criminal charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

Author

Author: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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