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Pictured Above: Jennifer Vanveldhuizen. Source: Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

On October 3, 2011, a Hispanic male worker was cleaning the streets of Huntington Beach when Jennifer Renee Vanveldhuizen approached him and yelled racial slurs at him. Vanveldhuizen, who was intoxicated, then punched the worker in the face, causing his lip to swell. Authorities thought this was an unprovoked hate crime and charged Vanveldhuizen with one felony count of hate-crime battery causing injury. After pleading guilty to the charge, the court sentenced Vanveldhuizen to one year in jail that will be stayed pending completion of three years of probation, 90 days in an alcohol-rehabilitation program and 10 weeks in an anger-management program. If Vanveldhuizens completes her programs, her felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor.

In order to be convicted of battery, the state needs to prove that you willfully used force or violence upon another. California Penal Code 422.55 defines a hate crime as a crime that is committed because of one of more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Being motivated by hate or discrimination when committing a crime will result in its own charge or a sentencing enhancement. Therefore, if you are charged with a hate crime, battery, assault, or any other serious crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you in fighting your charges and reducing your sentence.

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