With the increase of hate crimes before, during and after the 2016 presidential election, it’s a good time to review California’s hate crime laws. Here are some things a Fallbrook violent crimes defense attorney believes you should keep in mind.
The number one thing to remember about hate crimes is that it doesn’t matter if the victim or perpetrators are white, black, handicapped, gay, straight, Muslim, Christian or Jewish -the only thing that matters is that the person who committed the crime did so based on the victim’s race, ethnicity, origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. In other words, the four black youths that tortured a disabled teen because he was white are just as guilty of a hate crime as the people who smeared a synagogue with feces during Chanukah. Of course, the sentencing for these crimes will be drastically different as a hate crime merely serves as an enhancement to the original crime. In misdemeanor cases (like the vandalism with feces incident would likely be), the crime will become a felony, but if the crime is already a felony (like the tortured white teen), a hate crime enhancement could add an extra three years to the sentence.
These types of attacks have increased drastically in the last few months -particularly those involving anti-Muslim behaviors, which have gone up 67% since the election. Unfortunately, increased tensions between different demographic groups and an increased national attention on hate crimes also means more people who have not committed a hate crime will be accused of doing so simply because the victim is of a different ethnicity, race, sex, religion or sexual orientation than the person accused of the crime. With this increased likelihood of false hate crime accusations, it’s more important than ever to always work with a top Escondido defense lawyer.
It is also important to remember that because the hate crime charge is an enhancement, if you are acquitted of the original charges, the hate crime charge will immediately be void. With the right San Marcos criminal attorney at your side, you may be able to have the hate crime charges dropped in a plea deal or fight the base-level charges so the hate crime enhancement no longer matters.
If you have been accused of a hate crime, remember that it is critical you do not speak to the police. Instead, call (760) 643-4050 as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation with top Fallbrook defense lawyer Peter M. Liss.
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