One of the most controversial and harshly prosecuted crimes is that of a hate crime. A hate crime is termed as such as it is a crime done against either an individual or a group of people based solely on either their race, religion, sexual orientation, or another defining factor. Nearly half of committed hate crimes are based solely on race. Many people view the action of a hate crime as a direct assault on the values of America as the country is founded on the beliefs of equality and freedom for all.
For this reason, those who are charged with a hate crime should realize that they are facing severe penalties. Hate crimes can either be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony, based solely on the severity of the alleged crime. Examples of hate crimes include such things as forcefully injuring another party, threatening, defacing property, and desecrating a religious symbol. If you have been wrongfully accused of a hate crime, you cannot leave your future up to chance. It is of vital importance that you do not hesitate to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
Unlike many other states across the country, California specifically codifies hate crimes into law. We can see this when we examine Penal Code Sections 422.55, 422.6, 422.7, and 422.75 PC.
When we look at the annual report released by Los Angeles County related to hate crimes, we want to point out that the US Justice Department has said that as much as 54% of hate-motivated crimes are not reported to law enforcement. So, as we examine how many hate crimes occur in our area, please understand that this is incomplete data. The occurrence of hate crimes is likely far higher than reports suggest.
During the latest reporting gear in Los Angeles County, there were 524 hate crimes reported. This represents a 30% increase over the 30-year low seen in 2013.
The US Justice Department has been enforcing federal hate crimes laws since 1968. When federal hate crime statutes were first passed, it made it illegal to use or threatened to use force “to willfully interfere with any person because of race, color, religion, or national origin and because the person is participating in a federally protected activity, such as public education, employment, jury service, travel, or the enjoyment of public accommodations, or helping another person to do so.”
In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act expanded the federal definition of hate crimes. This enhanced the ability of prosecutors to pursue certain offenses that occurred and added new federal protections based on a person’s gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
At Okabe & Haushalter, we have the knowledge and resources needed to successfully defend those who have been accused of hate crimes. If you are convicted, you can face life-altering consequences, with punishments such as extended imprisonment and steep monetary fines. These should not be taken lightly; you need to ensure that you are being given the comprehensive, tenacious legal defense that you deserve.
Have you been accused of a hate crime? Don’t wait another minute; contact a Los Angeles criminal attorney for the legal defense and representation you need.