Understanding Hate Crime Charges
If you have been accused of or charged with a hate crime, you are probably aware of the severity of these charges. When individuals are suspected of being motivated by race, gender, religion, national orientation, disability, or sexual orientation in the commission a crime, the charges may be designated as a hate crime. Typically, a conviction in such a case results in harsher penalties than would accompany the same crime in the absence of perceived hate. There are national and state laws that govern how hate crimes must be handled, and prosecutors may be motivated to try to enact hate crime penalties as often as possible.
Examples of Hate Crimes
In general, any alleged criminal act believed to be motivated by the accused individual’s supposed hate of a certain cultural identity can be considered a hate crime. Examples include the following, if they are believed to be motivated by a bias against a person’s cultural identity:
- Vandalizing a religious symbol or placing an offensive religious symbol on someone else’s property
- Damage to a person’s property because of that person’s identity
- The use or threat of force to try to stop someone from exercising his or her constitutional rights, based on opposition to that person’s protected beliefs or traits
Many hate crimes are felonies in California. Anything that is considered to be inspired by prejudice and results in desecration of a place of worship, barring individuals from practicing free religion, stopping a person from realizing his or her civil rights, or the use of an incendiary device in certain locations is considered a felony hate crime. Hate crimes carry stiffer penalties in California.
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