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What Is a Hate Crime?

Posted on in Felonies

hate crime, Elgin criminal defense attorneyThe phrase "hate crime" is often used by the media and in casual conversation about certain types of criminal acts. Under state and federal law, however, "hate crime" has a specific meaning. Hate crimes are unique in that punishment for the crimes may be enhanced as a direct result of perpetrator’s motives for committing the crime.

How Illinois Defines a "Hate Crime"

A person commits a hate crime in Illinois when he or she commit one of the specifically listed acts because of "an actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin of a person or group." This means that you can commit a hate crime even if you are mistaken about someone’s characteristics. It also means that not just any crime can be a hate crime. The crime must be one of the crimes listed in the law. For example, rape and murder are not listed as possible hate crimes in the Illinois statute.

The crimes that can be considered hate crimes include:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Theft;
  • Criminal trespass to a residence;
  • Criminal trespass to real property;
  • Mob action;
  • Disorderly conduct; and
  • Harassment.

In January 2018, the Illinois legislature added several more offenses to the list of possible hate crimes. Stalking, cyberstalking, the transmission of obscene messages, and harassment through electronic communications can now be considered hate crimes depending on the perpetrator’s motivation.

Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes

The Illinois hate crime law increases the penalties for actions that are already against the law. In almost all cases a hate crime is a felony, even in cases where the "regular" crime is only a misdemeanor. This means that the maximum penalty for a hate crime could be anywhere between one to thirty years in prison, depending on the facts of the case.

Defenses to Hate Crime Allegations

If the prosecutor is going to charge a crime under the hate crime laws, the prosecutor will have an extra burden at trial. The prosecutor will need to show a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime and that the defendant was motivated by the one of the conditions listed in the statute.

A criminal defense lawyer may try to show that the suspect could not have committed the underlying crime. However, in some instances, the evidence is overwhelming that the defendant did commit the crime. In those cases the best defense may be to explain the motives of the defendant in committing the crime were not those covered by the hate crime law. A successful defense will create doubt in the minds of the jury about the motives of the defendant.

Contact Us for Help

If you have been charged with a crime, you need to speak with a tough and knowledgeable Kane County criminal defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today. Do not speak to anyone about your case until you have talked to a lawyer.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050K12-7.1.htm

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