Hate Crimes

Under Pen. Code, § 422.6, subd. (a), California law makes it a crime to:

  • whether or not acting under color of law;
  • by force or threat of force;
  • to willfully injure, intimidate, interfere with, oppress, or threaten;
  • any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or laws of this state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States;
  • in whole or in part because of one or more of the actual or perceived characteristics of the victim defined as a “hate crime.”

Under Pen. Code, § 422.55, subd. (a), California law defines a “hate crime” as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

  • Sexual orientation;
  • Religion;
  • Ethnicity or race;
  • Nationality;
  • Gender;
  • Disability;
  • Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.

Attorney for Hate Crimes in Ventura, CA

If you are charged with a hate crime in California, then contact a criminal defense attorney at Jay Leiderman Law. Contact Jay Leiderman to find out more about the charges pending against you for a violent crime, the possible penalties imposed for that offense, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

Call (805) 654-0200 for a free and confidential consultation.

Penalties for Hate Crimes in California

The crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail, a fine not to exceed $5,000 and community service, but specifies that no person shall be convicted of violating Penal Code section 422.6, subdivision (a) based upon speech alone, except upon a showing that the speech itself threatened violence against a specific person or group of persons and that the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out the threat.

Under Pen. Code, § 422.6, subd. (c), a hate crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Pursuant to Pen. Code, § 422.75, a person who commits a hate crime that is a felony shall receive an additional term of one, two, or three years in state prison, or an additional term of two, three, or four years if the act was committed in concert with another person.

Hate Crime as a Circumstance in Aggravation

Pursuant to Pen. Code, § 422.76, the fact that a person committed or attempted to commit a felony that is a hate crime shall be considered a circumstance in aggravation except when:

  • the court imposes an enhancement for a hate crime;
  • imposes the upper sentencing term for:
    • committing robbery;
    • assault with a deadly weapon; or
    • by means of any force likely to cause great bodily injury.

Additional Resources

Hate Crimes in CaliforniaVisit the website of the California Attorney General to learn more about the Attorney General’s Hate Crime Rapid Response Team. The team is one of the tools used by the California Department of Justice to help local, state, and federal law enforcement authorities investigate possible hate crimes. Find a definition of a “hate incident” as an action or behavior motivated by hate but legally protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. Find out more about how to spot a hate crime and the best way to report the incident.

This article was last updated on Friday, July 26, 2019.