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Hate Crimes – PC 422.6

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Hate Crimes – PC 422.6

Hate crime in California is addressed by several provisions in the penal code, including California PC 422.55, which outlines the specific circumstances under which a crime may be deemed a hate crime.

To ascertain whether a hate crime charge amounts to a misdemeanor or a felony, it’s crucial to understand the penal codes encompassing the alleged crime and whether a hate crime charge stands alone or supplements another charge.

California PC 422.55

California penal code 422.55 defines a hate crime by furnishing a precise list of grounds on which an act of vandalism, intimidation, or violence could be construed as a hate crime. Essentially, this penal code places more emphasis on the motives behind the crime rather than the crime itself.

A crime might be deemed hate-driven if it can be established that negative sentiments about the victims influenced the perpetrator’s actions:

  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Religious affiliation
  • Association with any organizations or groups supporting people in these categories.

This penal code does not constitute a charge. It merely clarifies what a hate crime entails. The other penal codes related to hate crimes will determine whether a hate crime is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony.

California PC 422.6

This section of the California Penal Code categorizes actions propelled by hate as crimes themselves. In other words, this code permits individuals to be charged with a hate crime, even in the absence of any additional charges.

Under this code, a hate crime charge is a misdemeanor.

California PC 422.7

This provision in the California Penal Code permits the addition of a hate crime charge to a pre-existing charge. Augmenting an existing misdemeanor with this charge escalates it to a felony.

For example, if a person is charged with misdemeanor vandalism, the charge can be upgraded to a felony if it can be demonstrated that bias or hatred motivated the vandalism. Spray-painting a bakery window with your name is a misdemeanor. Conversely, spray-painting a Jewish-owned bakery with swastikas would result in an additional hate crime charge, classifying it as a felony.

If the original charge was already a felony, appending a hate crime charge affects the sentencing guidelines. The additional time a person convicted of a hate crime with an underlying felony charge faces depends on the severity of the crime.

Best Defense Against Hate Crime Charges

Regardless of whether a person is facing misdemeanor or felony hate crime charges, certain factors can aid in their defense. While bias may be relatively easy to ascertain in the vandalism example provided above, in most cases, it can be challenging for the prosecutor to prove the defendant’s motive.

If the prosecutor cannot establish that hatred or bias prompted the act, then the hate crime charge will not hold, even if the defendant is found guilty of other charges. This could significantly reduce the sentence or reclassify a felony charge as a misdemeanor.

Even if the prosecutor convinces the jury that hate instigated the crime, there may still be a way to lessen the impact of this charge. To achieve this, the defense attorney must persuade the court that the actions taken were a result of previous incidents or duress at the time.

In other words, if the accused was in fear for their own or others’ health or life due to the immediate situation or past events, they might be able to mitigate the effects of the additional hate crime charge.

Charged with PC 422.6? Brower Criminal Defense in O.C. Can Help

Ronald Brower, with 45 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, CA, possesses an in-depth understanding of the penal code and the criminal justice system. He has the expertise and proficiency to ensure you receive the best defense possible. Contact our office today to learn more about how he can help provide defense against hate crime charges.

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