Hate Crime Lawyers in Solano County, CA
Understanding California's "Hate Crime Laws"
In the state of California, lawmakers have decided to take a zero tolerance approach to hate crimes. The term, "hate crime" encompasses a wide variety of criminal offenses—including assault and battery, vandalism, murder, manslaughter, etc.—that have been motivated by one person's aversion for another's gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, race or even disability. Regardless of the specific actions that were taken against the victim, however, the offender could face enhanced penalties if the prosecution is able to establish that the crime was motivated by a hatred of one or more of the aforementioned characteristics.
In California, hate crime laws are comprised of two major sections:
- California Penal Code §422.6 – This statute makes it a stand-alone crime to damage someone else's property or interfere with their civil rights solely because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion or disability.
- California Penal Code §422.7 & §422.75 – These statutes deem offenses like assault or vandalism to be "hate crimes" if the offender is motivated, even in part, by the fact that the victim is of a particular race, sexual orientation, etc.
The Penalties for Misdemeanor & Felony Hate Crimes
As mentioned earlier, there are two different sections of the law that regulate the prosecution and sentencing of hate crimes in California. For a stand-alone hate crime, you would face penalties for that crime alone (Ex: You only gave white employees time off from work so that they could vote). If you are accused of violating Penal Code §422.6, you would be charged with a misdemeanor—which is punishable by up to one year in county jail, $5,000 in fines and/or 400 hours of community service. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor that also meets the legal definition of a hate crime, however, you could be subject to enhanced felony charges and additional penalties.
If the prosecution chooses to charge you with a felony, you could be sentenced to an additional 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If it can be proven that you committed a felony hate crime with another person, whether you aided and abetted the other offender or personally committed the crime, you could be sentenced to an additional 2, 3 or 4 years in prison. If a firearm was used to commit a felony hate crime, the judge will likely impose the highest possible sentence—which would either be an additional 3 or 4 years in prison, depending on whether or not another person was involved. These penalties could also be imposed on top of other firearm sentencing enhancements.
Charged with a hate crime? Turn to Maas and Russo for help!
If you or someone you love has been charged with a hate crime in California, it is highly recommended that you retain the help of our Solano County criminal defense attorneys from Maas and Russo as soon as possible. Our firm is well-equipped to represent even the most complex of criminal cases, from violent crimes to sexual offenses, so there is no reason why you should wait any longer to find out if we can help.
We will do whatever it takes to protect your rights and help you to successfully avoid a conviction, so we encourage you to give us a call today at (800) 483-0992 to learn more.