What Is Considered a Hate Crime in California?

If you are accused of a hate crime in the state of California, you face enhanced penalties under both federal and state law that can prolong your prison sentence. Hate crimes are crimes that involve an element of bias based on the victim’s race, gender, or sexuality. According to the law, a hate crime is a criminal act committed because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

If you are accused of injuring or threatening someone because of one or more of the protected characteristics listed above, you can be charged with a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If you commit a different misdemeanor or a felony crime that prosecutors prove was committed as a hate crime, then you can face enhanced penalties like more expensive fines and a longer prison sentence.

Hate Crime Statistics in California?

According to 2018 data from the California Department of Justice:

  • 1,237 people were victims of hate crimes in California
  • The number of suspects for hate crimes increased by 7.9%
  • 594 racially motivated hate crime events were reported
  • 201 hate crime events based on religion were reported
  • 238 hate crime events based on sexual orientation were reported
  • 838 violent hate crime events were reported

The DOJ found that violent crimes make up 66.1% of total hate crimes. Property crimes like vandalism, arson, burglary, and larceny made 33.6% of hate crimes. Simple assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and intimidation were the most frequently committed violent hate crimes, according to the DOJ.

Our dedicated legal team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is here to walk you through each phase of the legal process if you are facing hate crime charges. Please call our law office today at (800) 462-7160 or contact us online to schedule a case consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers.