In the newest Mad Men, Don Draper just spent a night behind bars for punching a priest while drunk. Though that may have been the full extent of his legal troubles related to the issue back in 1968 if Don were a modern man, he would be in a lot more hot water than that. In fact, San Diego criminal attorney Peter M. Liss believes he may even be subject to hate crime charges.
The scene begins with Don Draper enjoying a drink at a bar while obviously slightly intoxicated. He overhears a priest trying to convert another bar fly and yells at the man to quiet down. The priest then turns his attention to Don, who eventually punches him. Regardless of any hate crime charges, Don would most certainly be accused of battery, as he hit someone without acting in self defense. In California, the crime would probably be a misdemeanor because he presumably did not seriously injure the priest or, as a San Diego criminal lawyer would point out, he would have faced even more serious charges even back in 1968. Even so, this could result in up to $2000 in fines and a six month prison sentence.
Of course, the real issue here isn’t whether or not Don hit the priest, but whether or not it was a hate crime. In California, hate crimes can be charged if the victim was attacked based on their religion. While this is often arguable, especially in a situation where two people are in a heated conversation, like Don and the priest were. The fact that Don basically hit the priest because of the priest’s religious beliefs means that he would almost certainly be charged with a hate crime. Because the original battery charge would most likely be a misdemeanor, it would be up to the prosecutor to determine whether or not the hate crime should be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
This is where it can be very important to have a top San Diego criminal lawyer on your side (as Don almost certainly would have) because if the crime was then charged as a felony, he could face up to three years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Even for someone in the lap of luxury like Don would have a hard time with those kinds of penalties.
Fortunately, hate crimes are hard to prove. Even in Don’s case, he could argue that it wasn’t the priest’s beliefs that caused him to become violent, but instead the actions and words of the priest.
That’s why anyone who has been accused of a hate crime needs to contact a San Diego hate crimes attorney like Peter M. Liss as soon as possible. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible.
Creative Commons Image by Angela N.