Some crimes in the state of California are motivated by an extreme dislike of certain people or groups. These crimes are considered “hate crimes.” The state defines hate crimes under Penal Code 422.55.
Merely disliking people from a certain group is not enough to lead to a hate crime conviction. An individual must commit a crime to be convicted of a hate crime.
Hate Crimes in California
A hate crime in California occurs when someone commits a criminal act because they do not like a particular characteristic about the victim or when they don’t like something they perceive as true about the victim.
For example, robbing someone because of their ethnicity would be a hate crime in California. Individuals can face hate crime charges even if they are wrong about a victim’s characteristics.
For example, let’s say a man assaults someone at a bar because he believes them to be homosexual. However, the man he attacked is not actually homosexual. The alleged attacker could still face hate crime charges because he acted while under the impression that his victim was homosexual.
Protected Groups in California
It is illegal to commit a crime based on someone’s actual or perceived characteristics or traits. Individuals may not commit a crime based on a person’s:
- Ethnicity or race
- Sexual orientation
It is also a hate crime to commit a crime against those who are associated with individuals of a certain characteristic or trait. Find out more about how to fight a hate crime charge by contacting the Simmrin Law Group today at (310) 997-4688.
Results of a Conviction for a Hate Crime in California
There are serious penalties associated with hate crime convictions in California. The court may hand down different penalties depending on the severity of the underlying crime.
For example, if the prosecution chooses to prosecute the crime as a misdemeanor, an individual could face:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- Jail time of up to one year
- Community service of up to 400 hours
For a felony crime, individuals could face time in prison, as well as higher fines. This is because the penalties increase if the underlying crime is a felony. In some cases, individuals may be offered probation for a hate crime conviction. However, the court does not always offer probation in these cases.
Possible Legal Defenses for Hate Crime Charges in California
Any crime committed simply because of the victim’s characteristics in California may be a hate crime. Legal defenses for hate crimes vary greatly.
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you prove that you did not commit a hate crime. Your lawyer can help you weaken the prosecution’s case. In fact, our lawyers often get hate crime charges dismissed or reduced for our clients.
For example, let’s say you were accused of robbing someone because they were Jewish. If you did not know the individual was Jewish, you may be able to avoid a conviction for a hate crime. However, you may still face charges for the robbery. Find out more about how to fight these charges by contacting us now.
Work with the Simmrin Law Group to Fight a Hate Crime Charge in California
Penal Code 422.55 defines hate crimes in California. The Simmrin Law Group can help you if you were accused of a hate crime. We’re ready to start working on your defense right away. Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles for help immediately at (310) 997-4688. We also have an online contact form.
Reach out to us today for a free consultation.