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What is considered a hate crime, and who are the targets?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2023 | Violent Crimes

Hate crimes are on the rise in California and across the country. If you face charges, seeking help and a solid defense is crucial. This is what such crimes entail and who is typically the target.

Understanding hate crimes

A hate crime is charged on the federal level, which means it results in serious penalties if a person is convicted. It often involves violence and occurs because of a bias against a specific group. However, in order for someone to be charged with a hate crime, the victim must be a member of a protected class. By federal law, these violent crimes are perpetrated against people based on their race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

Although most hate crimes are committed against people based on their race or religion, many also target those for their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Penalties for hate crimes

If a person is convicted of a hate crime, the penalties they face depend on the nature of the offense. Although some are non-violent and involve misdemeanors such as vandalism, those involving violence are more common and are charged as felonies.

In some cases, the circumstances of the crime can elevate the charges. However, if the crime is violent and motivated by bias against a protected class of people, a person could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. Some hate crimes even carry the death penalty. For example, if a person mows into a group of mostly Black people engaged in a Black Lives Matter protest with their car and kills three people of color, they might be sentenced to death.

Hate crimes carry some of the most severe consequences and penalties. Anyone who is charged with such an offense needs to build a strong defense.