A hate crime occurs when one person harms another based on the victim’s race, ethnicity, origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for someone who did not commit a hate crime to be accused of one. That is why it is critical to immediately hire a San Diego criminal lawyer if you have been accused of any crime, especially a hate crime.
When you are arrested, you have to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you, which is why you should always invoke your right to speak to your San Diego defense attorney as soon as you are placed under arrest. Failing to do so could result in your words being twisted around against you later on. For example, if you are arrested for assaulting someone you don’t like for personal reasons and make an angry, off-handed comment about that person’s sexual orientation or race while you are under arrest, the police could use that as evidence that you committed a hate crime.
One important thing to note when it comes to hate crimes is that it doesn’t matter whether the person attacked is a minority or not. If a gay man attacks a straight man solely on the grounds of his sexual orientation, it is still a hate crime.
In California, hate crimes are not separate charges, but an enhancement to an existing charge. So, for example, if you have been charged with vandalism that prosecutors claim was performed to victimize someone on the grounds of their religion, if you are found innocent of the vandalism charges, you cannot be convicted of the hate crime.
Of course, just because hate crimes are not stand alone offenses does not mean you shouldn’t take them seriously. If you are convicted of a crime that was considered a hate crime, a misdemeanor will become a felony. If the crime was already a felony, you could face an extra three years of prison time for the offense. This is why it is so important for anyone accused of a hate crime to immediately speak with a San Diego criminal attorney.
If you have been accused of a hate crime, or believe you might be in the future, please schedule a free initial consultation with San Diego criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.
Creative Commons Image by Quinn Dombrowski