It is Easier to Commit a Hate Crime in California than You Think
People in California must be very careful not to commit hate crimes. This aggravating factor can turn a relatively innocuous offense into an extremely serious matter, increasing your potential period of incarceration exponentially. Unfortunately, it is much easier to commit a hate crime than you might realize. Even a slight slip of the tongue or the wrong symbols can spell doom for your defense strategy – despite the fact that this might have been a major misunderstanding. But what exactly does a hate crime look like in California? What is the definition of a hate crime? What are some recent hate crimes in the Golden State, and how does the California government view these offenses? Let’s find out:
The Definition of a Hate Crime in California
A hate crime is not a crime in and of itself but rather an aggravating factor that is attached to other crimes. For example, you could commit an assault against a member of a minority specifically because you wanted to target someone who belonged to that group. You would then face assault charges and hate crime charges.
But in order to prove that you targeted the individual specifically because of their minority status (such as race, sexuality, or religion), the prosecution would need to provide the court with clear evidence. You cannot be convicted of a hate crime just because the victim feels like they were targeted because of their minority status. You need to have made reference to their minority status in some way during the crime.
For example, you could have displayed hate symbols. You might have committed vandalism by scrawling swastikas on a synagogue. Or perhaps you screamed certain slurs during an attack against a particular ethnic group. This is one reason you should always be careful of what you say during a fight or an altercation – even if your emotions are getting the better of you.
California is Investing Heavily in Fighting Hate Crimes
California takes hate crimes very seriously. In July 2022, the state announced $30 million in funding for programs designed to stop hate crimes. This raised the total amount invested into hate crime activism to $100 million. This was partly a reaction to a larger trend that saw all hate crimes increase by 89% over the past decade. But California also took this step because anti-Asian hate crimes were at an all-time high – increasing by 177% within 2021 alone. This means that there’s a higher chance of being caught for a hate crime, and there is a higher chance of experiencing criminal consequences for your actions.
Examples of Hate Crimes in California
On December 28, 2022, a man from Colorado was charged with committing hate crimes after he engaged in a racist, homophobic tirade against Asian patrons at an In-N-Out Burger location in San Ramon. The entire incident was captured on camera, as the victims filmed themselves eating and replying to the defendant. They then posted the content on social media, where it went viral and attracted attention from the authorities. The individual was then charged with two counts of committing hate crimes.
On December 8, 2022, a man from Sunnyvale was charged with a hate crime after assaulting an Asian senior while telling the victim to “go back to your country.” After punching the victim six times in the face while repeating this phrase, the defendant made off with the Asian man’s cell phone before officers arrived. He was eventually tracked down, however, and he then faced robbery, battery, felonious elder abuse, and hate crime charges. Fortunately, the victim sustained only minor injuries.
On March 8, 2022, two men from California were charged with hate crimes after assaulting five people inside a Turkish restaurant. The attack was carried out because the defendants – who identified as Armenian – were unhappy with Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the conflict against Armenia. This is despite the fact that the Turkish restaurant owners have no ability to control Turkish foreign policy. The defendants caused several injuries and about $20,000 in property damage.
Judging by the recent stories from California, it seems as though hate crimes are especially common at fast-food restaurants. On August 30, it was reported that a man had been charged with a hate crime after referring to another individual as a “dirty Hindu.” Perhaps most importantly, the defendant did not physically assault the victim but was instead charged with “verbal harassment.” This shows how easy it is to face hate crimes in California – even if you did not touch the victim.
In June 2022, it was reported that a shooter who opened fire at a church in Southern California carried out the attack specifically to target Taiwanese people. Police reported that he was upset because of the “political tensions” between China and Taiwan and hated all Taiwanese people despite being born there. Hate crimes were added to his long list of charges.
In September of 2022, it was reported that a man had attempted to set a Latin individual on fire specifically because of his race. Approaching the victim, who was sitting in his vehicle, the defendant poured gasoline through the window and tried to spark the flammable material. He made derogatory comments toward Latin people as he carried out these acts. As you might have expected by now, this individual was also charged with a hate crime.
Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Redlands?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney in Redlands, look no further than Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants in the Golden State, and we know how serious hate crimes can be. With our help, you can mitigate any potential consequences you might be facing. It may be possible to have your hate crimes charges dismissed and face only the normal charges instead. The key is to book your consultation with us as soon as possible, as time is always of the essence. Remember, the internet can only provide you with so much information – so reach out today to get the ball rolling.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.